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Natural disasters can have a lasting impact on children and education

Childhood trauma from a natural disaster
Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts
Posted at 1:00 PM, Jul 12, 2019

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Flooding in Maryland … wildfires in California … volcanic eruption in Hawaii … hurricanes natural disasters have overwhelmed the United States in 2018.

As we enter wildfire and hurricane seasons, how can these natural disasters impact your kids years later?

Researchers at the University of Melbourne studied nearly 25,000 elementary school students across the city of Victoria, Australia, including those who were affected by the major bush fires there in 2009. They compared the standardized test scores of students who were highly impacted to the students who suffered low to no impact from the bush fires.

Social scientists found the expected gains from third to fifth grade in reading and math were reduced in schools that had higher levels of impact from the bush fires.

The study suggests students may benefit from extra academic support in the years following a natural disaster or a traumatic experience parents should connect with school staff and community resources to find the best social and emotional support for their child.

Some of the factors that can lead to reduced academic performance following a natural disaster are schooling disruptions when students need to relocate or change schools, or trauma-related disorders like PTSD that can interfere with a child’s ability to pay attention and learn.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.