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Helping Children Cope After A Disaster

Issues related to disaster and trauma intervention are addressed in the following booklet.  This booklet is to assist parents and professionals in helping children after a disaster.  The Child Advocate is devoted to children and the parents and professionals that work with them and advocate for them.  If you have questions about the information presented here, please consult a physician, mental health professional, the resources listed or other professional in your area.  References on the items listed here are available on request. Booklet for parents and professionals on Helping Children Cope After A Disaster from the Penn State Hershey Medical Center and the College of Medicine.  This booklet is designed to be printed on regular 8 1/2 by 11 paper on both sides and stapled into a booklet.  The two links below allow you to download and print the booklet.  Note that you will have to follow the page numbers to place the pages in the correct order after you print the booklet.  The Acrobat Reader is free and is needed to download the booklet.  You may already have this reader installed on your computer.  If you do not have the Reader, then use the link to download and install it.  The booklet may be printed for educational purposes, if properly cited, and distributed without profit to the individual or agency.  No further permissions are necessary and you should feel free to print and distribute this booklet as needed. Disaster Booklet in PDF...

Listen to the Children Interview

These are questions to ask children that are directly or indirectly involved in trauma to determine their awareness, knowledge, needs and misconceptions.  These questions are helpful whether the child was closely or distantly involved in the trauma. Where were you at the time of the disaster/attack/bombing? What happened where you were? How did it happen? Why did it happen? What were your thoughts and feelings, then and now? What did you do to help yourself – then and now? What did others do to help you – then and now? Dealing with Children’s Reactions What can help a child to deal with injury, loss and distress around trauma? Reassure that the event is over and they are “safe”. Repeat that you are “helping people”. Tell the child what you are doing. Warn them of painful procedures and that they (children) are “good”. Explain the expected procedures and who people are. Answer questions about the child reassuringly but honestly. Do not initially allow the child to hear others’ stories of accidents. Avoid telling the child about serious trauma of a friend or family member, unless the child seems capable to hear. Trauma Intervention At the time of the trauma what can help immediately? Protect children from excitement such as onlookers. Reunite children with parents immediately for comfort. Coordinate with other caregivers. Support parents in dealing with events. Pain and Fear Management What type of interventions are helpful to calm a child when a therapist or professional is involved? Distraction Guided imagery Suggestion Thought stopping Self-instruction Relaxation Trauma Factors from the Hurricane Hugo Disaster Factors to use in assessing potential risk...