Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
What became of them?
One of the areas of research that seems to be under-researched is that of the children who survive a disaster. Very few papers have been written on the topic. Certainly, there have been a number of excellent papers that have looked at the immediate effects and how children should be cared for in the immediate aftermath.
What I refer to is – what became of them in later life? We are all well aware of the catastrophic effects of post traumatic stress disorders in adults who have survived disasters, but what are the effects on the children in their later lives of such catastrophic disasters?
We read in the press and see the video coverage of these children in the immediate after-care situation, but what effect does a disaster, with loss of parents and siblings have on those children in later life? We know from the research into orphaned children that the effects can be quite devastating with feelings of rejection, even though the parents both died in tragic circumstances. This is different to those children who lose parents and siblings in a disastrous event through which they themselves survived. In these cases they have a double event in that their family is immediately removed and the horror of the earthquake, rail or air crash.
The western world supplies cash and other resources to ensure that the immediate suffering of these children is greatly lessened but that care cannot replace the care they would have received from their lost families.
I fear this is a neglected area of research which could potentially lead to post-disaster care being withdrawn at a time when it is still much needed. But, without the information we cannot be guided as to the best path to embark on.