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May 23

Student Emotional Issues and Natural Disasters

If you have been in education for more than twelve months, then you are very familiar with tornado drills and the recommended safety procedures. It seems however, that most of the time they were just a routine practice and not taken very seriously.  I can recall stepping over legs/feet protruding into the center of the hall and having to remind students to pull their legs up and cover their heads.  Fortunately, our students never had to prepare for the real event, but still needed to be prepared.  The recent disaster in Oklahoma should reinforce the resolve of administrators to instill in staff and students that a drill is practice for a possible event. 

The purpose of this blog is to remind all educators about the reactions of children after such a traumatic weather event and what special needs they may have to assist recovery.  The students in these two elementary schools experienced the trauma of destruction to their schools and community and sadly to the deaths of some of their classmates. This article was written to illustrate how assist those students and families in Oklahoma and is certainly transferable to all school populations suffering from severe disaster.  While the attached article is most appropriate for elementary and middle level students, it might be a good information source for high school guidance counselors.

The article is “Kids Who Survived Tornado Face Emotional After-Effects.”  You may access it at: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/05/21/psychologist-impact-kids-disasters/2346773/