Disaster Preparedness for Children and Families: a Critical Review
- 1.6k Downloads
Preparedness for disasters is universally low; children and families are particularly vulnerable groups. Against this backdrop, research on disaster preparedness for children and families is reviewed, with a focus on disaster preparedness and prevention education programs. Following definitions and theory/rationale, research is critically analyzed. While findings indicate a large growth in research in the past 15 years and largely positive findings, significant challenges remain. These challenges include issues related to methodological rigor, long-term effectiveness, and implementation. Recent research reflecting these important challenges is reviewed. At the same time, other recent research documents real potential for these programs, including findings which suggest that increased attention to incorporating theory- and evidence-supported components can enhance outcomes. Thus, despite some important limitations and challenges, research done to date signals promise for these programs in reducing risk and increasing resilience to disasters for children, families, and the households and communities in which they live.
KeywordsDisaster preparedness Prevention Disaster risk reduction (DRR) DRR preparedness education programs Children and families
The funding support of Australia’s Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (BNHCRC) is gratefully acknowledged. This review paper was part of a larger scoping and review exercise for a 3-year BNHCRC-funded project on “building best practice in child-centered disaster risk reduction.”
Compliance with Ethics Guidelines
Conflict of Interest
Briony Towers, Victoria A. Johnson, and David M. Johnston declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Kevin R. Ronan has received a grant from the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre. Dr. Ronan has also received payment for development of educational presentations and paid travel accommodations from the Australia-New Zealand initiative: Disaster Resilience Australia-New Zealand Schools Education Network (DRANZSEN).
Eva Alisic has received a grant from the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
- 3.United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization/United Nations Childrens Fund. Disaster risk reduction in school curricula: Case studies from thirty countries. Geneva: UNESCO/UNICEF; 2012.Google Scholar
- 4.•United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization/United Nations Childrens Fund. Towards a learning culture of safety and resilience: Technical guidance for integrating disaster risk reduction in the school curriculum (Pilot Version). Geneva: UNESCO/UNICEF; 2013. Written by two DRR researchers (D. Selby & F Kagawa), this publication provides guidance for integrating DRR curriculum in school settings. It offers conceptual frameworks, including differing levels of DRR integration, depending on school resources, will, and other factors. It also provides tools for planning, implementation, and evaluation. Case examples are provided to bring different focal points to life.Google Scholar
- 5.•Ronan, KR. Many advances, continuing challenges towards HFA2 and Post-2015: Policy-practice-research summary and recommendations. Hyogo Framework for Action Thematic Review: Priority for Action (PFA) 3 – Core Indicator (CI) 2: School curricula, education material and relevant training including disaster risk reduction and recovery concepts and practices. Background Chapter prepared for United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction, 2015. UNESCO/UNICEF: Paris/Geneva; 2015. This background paper was written for the UNISDR Global Assessment Report on DRR, 2015. A focus in this paper is on the policy-practice-research nexus in relation to the HFA Core Indicator noted in the title. Based on desk and literature review and consultation with many key actors, this background paper documents progress and challenges across these three areas in relation to DRR education and teacher training. Due for publication in early 2015, it is also available from the author. Google Scholar
- 6.••Johnson VA, Ronan KR, Johnston DM, Peace R. Evaluations of disaster education programs for children: a methodological review. Int J Dis Risk Reduct. 2014;9:107–23. One of two systematic reviews done in this area in 2014. Main findings are presented in this paper and provide a base from which to improve design and methods and other important features linked to DRR preparedness education.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 7.••Codreanu TA, Celenza A, Jacobs I. Does disaster education of teenagers translate into better survival knowledge, knowledge of skills and adaptive behavioral changes? A systematic literature review. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2014;29(6):1–14. The second of two systematic reviews in this area published in 2014. This review is more selective, focusing on teenagers in secondary school settings. In noting similar methodological limitations as described in this paper, it also concludes that DRR behavioral change in secondary school DRR programs was not documented in studies reviewed whereas there were indications of DRR-related knowledge changes (theoretical knowledge and, possibly, practical knowledge). The author’s overall conclusion was the following: “It seems that the best results are obtained by combining theoretical and practical activities in school, family, community, and self-education programs” (p. 10). They also conclude that research is necessary over longer time intervals to establish whether these programs can help youth develop the adaptive capacities to ensure such programs work as intended during hazard events.Google Scholar
- 11.••Pfefferbaum B, Shaw JA, the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) Committee on Quality Issues (CQI). Practice parameter on disaster preparedness. J Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2013;52(11):1224–38. This paper presents practice guidelines and provides a useful summary and set of actionable, evidence-driven recommendations to assist practitioners working in disaster contexts.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 18.International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Public awareness and public education for disaster risk reduction: key messages. Geneva: IFRC; 2013.Google Scholar
- 19.Towers B. Child-centred disaster risk reduction: Framework for evaluating education program content and delivery mechanisms. Manuscript in preparation; 2015.Google Scholar
- 20.Johnson V., Peace R., Ronan KR, Johnston DM. Improving the impact and implementation of disaster education programs through theory-based evaluations. Manuscript under review (Risk Analysis); 2015.Google Scholar
- 22.Ronan KR, Johnston DM. Promoting community resilience in disasters: The role for schools, youth, and families. New York: Springer; 2005.Google Scholar
- 23.Kelly B. Building best practice in child-centred disaster risk reduction: A literature review. Manuscript in preparation for publication; 2014.Google Scholar
- 24.Fraser S, Leonard G, Matsuo I, Murakami H. Tsunami evacuation: Lesson from the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami of March 11th 2011. Lower Hutt/Wellington: GNS Science Report; 2012.Google Scholar
- 25.Hasegawa R. Disaster evacuation from Japan’s 2011 Tsunami disaster and the Fukushima nuclear accident. Studies No: 05/13. IDDRI:Paris;2013. Retrieved from http://www.iddri.org
- 26.Zhe E, Nickerson A. Effects of an intruder crisis drill on children’s knowledge, anxiety, and perceptions of school safety. Sch Psychol Rev. 2007;36(3):501–8.Google Scholar
- 27.Johnson D, Tarrant R, Tipler K, Coomer M, Pedersen S, Garside R. Preparing schools for future earthquakes in New Zealand: Lessons from an evaluation of a Wellington school exercise. Aust J Emerg Manag. 2011;26(1):24–30.Google Scholar
- 32.Renwick J. Report of the 2012 “What’s the Plan, Stan?” survey of New Zealand primary schools.Research and Evaluation Services, Strategy and Governance Branch of the Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington, available at: www.civildefence.govt.nz/memwebsite.nsf/wpg_url/for-the-cdem-sector-public-education-whats-the-plan-stan?; 2012.
- 33.Petal M, Sanduvac ZT. DREAMS for Turkey: A case study of scale and reach of disaster-learning self-study for individual and household preparedness and school disaster management. London: Risk RED; 2012.Google Scholar