Warning about the impact on children’s mental health of natural disasters

The international organization Aldeas Infantiles SOS has warned fathers, mothers, caregivers and society in general about the responsibility to properly inform children about natural disasters that can happen at any time, such as the avalanche that recently occurred in Quetama, Cundinamarca, which resulted in deaths and injuries.

According to an NGO that cares for children, an overabundance of information about natural disasters that have occurred or may occur and a lack of filters regarding images of damage, casualties or victims; This can cause insecurities, trauma and fears in children that affect their mental health and this is something that parents and caregivers need to be very careful about.

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According to Esteban Reyes, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Colombia, “It is important to call on families, schools and educational centers to help children and adolescents understand disaster risks, taking into account their age and interests. Adults should be the filter of information that is displayed in the media and social networks, so that children and adolescents do not have to interpret this information alone and lose a sense of security. Our role as adults is to accompany them in all the situations we face in life and to realize that their well-being depends on our adult ability to provide them with a protective environment.”

Information about these natural disasters without context or explanation can cause children to feelings of anxiety, fear or sadness, or disturbed sleep, disturbing dreams, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and outbursts of anger.

In addition, the NGO confirmed that natural disasters can be particularly hard on children who have experienced trauma in the past or who already have a mental, emotional, behavioral or developmental disorder before the event occurs.

How to handle information about natural disasters with children?

SOS Children’s Villages in Colombia has made several recommendations for parents or responsible adults to take responsibility for information about natural risks:

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