Terrorism and Children

Terrorism struck our nation very quickly and without warning. This event was horrifying for adults, but it can be even more traumatic for children if they don't know what to do.  It is hard to keep your emotions in check during this horrific time.  Most Americans are angry, sad and feel totally helpless.  The information here is for all possible disasters that may happen in our lifetimes, Earthquakes...Tornadoes...Fires...Floods...Hurricanes or Hazardous Materials Spills, but is of special use to you now during the attack on America.

During this disaster, your family may have to leave your home and daily routine. Children may become anxious, confused or frightened. As an adult, you'll need to cope with this disaster in a way that will help children avoid developing a permanent sense of loss. It is important to give children guidance that will help them reduce their fears.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Red Cross has prepared this brochure to help you help your children cope. Ultimately, you should decide what's best for your children, but consider using these suggestions as guidelines.

Children and Their Response to this Disaster

Children depend on daily routines: They wake up, eat breakfast, go to school, play with friends. When emergencies or disasters interrupt this routine, children may become anxious.

In this disaster, they'll look to you and other adults for help. How you react to an emergency gives them clues on how to act. If you react with alarm, a child may become more scared. They see our fear as proof that the danger is real. If you seem overcome with a sense of loss, a child may feel their losses more strongly.

Children's fears also may stem from their imagination, and you should take these feelings seriously. A child who feels afraid is afraid. Your words and actions can provide reassurance. When talking with your child, be sure to present a realistic picture that is both honest and manageable.

Feeling fearful at this time is healthy and natural for adults and children. But as an adult, you need to keep control of the situation. With most disasters, it is clear when the danger has passed, with another terrorist attack hanging over your head, we need to keep a heightened awareness of our surroundings.  That doesn't mean to walk around paranoid, but to be even more aware of certain situations that may be dangerous.  The most important thing you can do for your children is to go on with life, it gives a sense of normalcy to your everyday activities.  

Be aware that after a disaster, children are most afraid that--

Advice to Parents: Prepare for this Disaster and possible future terrorist threats:

You can create a Family Disaster Plan by taking four simple steps.

1.  Learn what hazards exist in your community and how to prepare for each. 

2.  Meet with your family to discuss what you would do, as a group, in each situation. 

3.  Take steps to prepare your family for disaster such as: posting emergency phone numbers, selecting an out-of-state family contact, assembling disaster supplies kits for each member of your household and installing smoke detectors on each level of your home. 

4.  Finally, practice your Family Disaster Plan so that everyone will remember what to do when a disaster does occur.

 

 

 

TIME FOR RECOVERY

Immediately after this disaster, try to reduce your child's fear and anxiety.

 

 

You can help children cope by understanding what causes their anxieties and fears. Reassure them with firmness and love. Your children will realize that life will eventually return to normal. If a child does not respond to the above suggestions, seek help from a mental health specialist or a member of the clergy.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's Community and Family Preparedness Program developed this brochure in cooperation with the American Red Cross' Community Disaster Education Program. Both are national efforts to help people prepare for disasters of all types. For more information on how to prepare for and respond to disaster, contact your local or State office of emergency management and your local Red Cross chapter. Ask for "Your Family Disaster Plan." Or, write to: FEMA, P.O. Box 70274, Washington, D.C. 20024. FEMA L-196
February 1993
ARC 4499

 

May God Bless America

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