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Hurricane Katrina's effects on children: Resilience and gender
Date:7/14/2010

Rebuilding schools after Hurricane Katrina and providing supportive environments and relationships have helped many children reduce their levels of overall trauma from the hurricane that devastated the Gulf Coast in August 2005, according to a new study. A second study found that girls had distinct stress reactions from boys in the aftermath of the storm.

The studies appear in a special section on children and disaster in the July/August 2010 issue of the journal Child Development.

In a longitudinal study of recovery patterns of children affected by Katrina, researchers at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and the St. Bernard Parish Public Schools looked at 400 mostly White elementary- and high-school-aged children (from ages 9 to 18) between 2005 and 2008. The children lived in a New Orleans school district that was heavily damaged by the hurricane.

When the researchers looked at the children two and three years after Katrina hit, they found that overall trauma symptoms (such as feeling depressed, sad, nervous, and having trouble concentrating and sleeping) had decreased. Furthermore, 45 percent of the children were found to be resistant to stress and lacked long-term psychological problems. The children's strengths, the researchers found, were largely the result of rebuilt schools (St. Bernard Parish reopened within 2-1/2 months of the hurricane) and supportive relationships (including the classmates students interacted with when they returned to school).

But this work in progress also found that more than a quarter of the children continued to have significant trauma symptoms of post-traumatic stress and depression three years later. Children who reported these symptoms were more likely to be younger, female, have seen a mental health professional, and also report family or school problems. They also reported being exposed to more traumas.

A second study on children affected by Katrina, cond
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Contact: Sarah Hutcheon
shutcheon@srcd.org
202-289-7905
Society for Research in Child Development
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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