The Atlantic

How Parents Can Help Shield Kids from a Hurricane’s Trauma

After a natural disaster, many children struggle to process the event. For a small number of them, the trauma can last for years.
Source: AFP / Getty

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina displaced hundreds of thousands of people, possibly more, and in the following two years, Shannon Self-Brown kept up with more than 400 of them.

Self-Brown, now the chair of the health-policy-and-behavioral-sciences department at Georgia State University’s School of Public Health, and her fellow researchers wanted to better understand how parents and children coped with having lived through a natural disaster. She found that in addition to being physically disruptive, Katrina—along with Hurricane Rita, which followed a month later—was psychologically disruptive, too, affecting some children even years later. “You really see similar impacts from tornadoes, flooding, earthquakes, even man-made disasters [like] 9/11,” Self-Brown says.

[Hurricane Florence forecast: a slow-moving ‘storm of a lifetime’ ]

On Thursday, , I spoke with Self-Brown about natural disasters’ psychological effects on families, as well as how children make sense of why natural disasters happen. The conversation that

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