Teaching Children About Natural Disasters - UNICEF
31 January 2013 at 10:43 am
UNICEF Australia has launched an education kit to help parents talk to their children about natural disasters like recent flooding events in Queensland.
“At UNICEF we’re very well aware of the impact events like these have on communities, families and children,” UNICEF chief executive officer Norman Gillespie said.
Dr Gillespie said whether children were directly impacted, or disturbed by images on news broadcasts, there were practical steps parents, teachers and carers could take to help children cope with the emotional impact of a natural disaster.
“The impact of natural disaster and conflict on children is well documented by UNICEF’s child protection specialists,” Dr Gillespie said.
“Signs of trauma are no doubt being experienced by children whose families have had to make the hard decision to leave property in flood and bushfire-affected regions across Queensland, northern NSW and throughout Tasmania and Victoria.”
UNICEF Australia’s education kit, Teaching Children About Natural Disasters, names common signs of distress in children as clinging to parents, the take up of thumb sucking, a new fear of the dark, bedwetting and nightmares.
Dr Gillespie said the weather event that had caused widespread flooding and heavy rain throughout Queensland and regions of NSW had also caused flooding and displaced people in Jakarta, Indonesia.
“The last report our office had was that 249,000 people in Jakarta were affected and we know a third of those are children” Dr Gillespie said. “We’ve also heard that 30 people were killed in the floods.”
Last week UNICEF released its Humanitarian Action for Children report profiling its responses to more than 200 emergencies in 2012 and funding expectations for 2013.
Already, one month into the new year, the forecast for children is challenging, Dr Gillespie said.
“In a majority of emergencies UNICEF puts itself on the front line to protect the rights of children who are made extremely vulnerable as a result of dislocation, food shortages and, in the worst cases, where they’ve lost one or both parents to disaster or conflict.
UNICEF receives no funding from the UN. It relies on the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
Download a copy of UNICEF Australia’s Teaching Children About Natural Disasters here.