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Children’s needs differ from adultscomment (0)

May 12, 2011

Children are impacted by profound loss and confusion,” said Donna Swarts, national child care coordinator for Southern Baptist disaster relief.

When a crisis or disaster occurs, children often are treated as adults. However, “children’s needs are different from adults’ needs,” she said.

For instance, children are comforted by routine. But when their “world” is torn apart by disaster, that routine is broken, their toys are gone and their surroundings are different.

They may
• start to experience fear,
• become afraid of being separated from their parents or being left alone,
• fear the danger that struck once will happen again and
• become fixated on the traumatic event and think about nothing else.

“A child’s fears are serious,” Swarts said.

If children are not able to talk through or deal with their thoughts and feelings, then they may regress, express anger and experience hyperactivity or sleep disturbances. They may even complain of physical ailments, such as a stomachache.

Southern Baptist disaster relief child care volunteers, who are trained to assist in different crisis situations, try to get children to talk about their feelings or draw pictures about their experiences and discuss them.

“We want to be there for the children,” Swarts said.  (TAB)

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