Children’s Disaster Reactions: the Influence of Family and Social Factors

  • Betty Pfefferbaum
  • Anne K. Jacobs
  • J. Brian Houston
  • Natalie Griffin
Child and Family Disaster Psychiatry (B Pfefferbaum, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Child and Family Disaster Psychiatry


This review examines family (demographics, parent reactions and interactions, and parenting style) and social (remote effects, disaster media coverage, exposure to secondary adversities, and social support) factors that influence children’s disaster reactions. Lower family socioeconomic status, high parental stress, poor parental coping, contact with media coverage, and exposure to secondary adversities have been associated with adverse outcomes. Social support may provide protection to children in the post-disaster environment though more research is needed to clarify the effects of certain forms of social support. The interaction of the factors described in this review with culture needs further exploration.


Adolescents Children Disaster Exposure Family Media Mental health Natural disaster Parent Parenting Posttraumatic stress Social support Terrorism Trauma 



This work was conducted by the Terrorism and Disaster Center (TDC), at the University of Missouri and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, a partner in the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN). TDC is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Points of view in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of HHS, NCTSN, SAMHSA, the University of Missouri, or the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

J. Brian Houston and Natalie Griffin declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Betty Pfefferbaum has received a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration.

Anne K. Jacobs has received consulting fees/honorarium from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and the University of Missouri, Columbia, MO.

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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Betty Pfefferbaum
    • 1
    • 2
  • Anne K. Jacobs
    • 2
  • J. Brian Houston
    • 3
  • Natalie Griffin
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, College of MedicineUniversity of Oklahoma Health Sciences CenterOklahoma CityUSA
  2. 2.Terrorism and Disaster CenterUniversity of Oklahoma Health Sciences CenterOklahoma CityUSA
  3. 3.Department of CommunicationUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA

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