Skip Navigation

Strengthening the evidence for maternal and child health programs

Reaching Out to Children and Youth Following Disasters

Professional Resource Brief

The impact on children and families of disasters, terrorism, trauma, or violence presents many challenges to families and health professionals. This guide provides resources for helping children and adolescents cope with injury; loss of loved ones; destruction of homes and schools; and other trauma.

Web Sites

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry: Facts for Families
Topics include talking with children about terrorism and war, posttraumatic stress disorder, the depressed child, television violence, and grief. They are available in English and Spanish, and some are also available in Arabic, Hebrew, Icelandic, Malaysian, Polish, and Urdu.

American Academy of Pediatrics: Children and Disasters
Materials for child care providers, children and youth with special health care needs, hospitals, pediatricians, pediatric practices, and schools. Includes resources on promoting adjustment and helping children cope and talking to children about disasters.

American Red Cross
Resources for disaster preparedness and recovery. Masters of Disaster contains lessons and activities for educators to use in helping students (K-12) work through a broad range of questions, feelings and reactions following a tragic event. Maintaining a Healthy State of Mind provides information for adults, parents, and caregivers and middle to high school students about what reactions to expect and how to help themselves and others cope with unexpected events.

NEW!  Children's Mental Health Network: Specific Strategies for Talking With Your Kids About the Tragedy in Connecticut
Tips on what parents should say and links to more resources.

International Center to Heal Our Children
Materials for families and professionals to promote the emotional health of children and youth who are traumatized psychologically by acts of violence, disasters, or terrorism. International and national training, consulting, and collaboration.

MedlinePlus: Disaster Preparation and Recovery
Overviews, videos, research, directories and organizations, related issues; information for children, women, and seniors. Some information available in Arabic, Bosnian, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Kurdish, Russian, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Mental Health America: Helping Children Cope with Loss
Signs of grieving, helping children and adolescents grieve, other resources.

National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies: For Parents
Materials on preparing for disaster and on helping families and children cope with traumatic events.

National Association of School Psychologists: School Safety and Crisis Resources
Materials on school safety and violence prevention, suicide, crisis response, media and crisis, trauma, natural disasters, war and terrorism, PREPaRE school crisis prevention and response training curriculum, and national emergency assistance team. Some materials are available in Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Korean, Spanish, Urdu, and Vietnamese.

National Center for Disaster Preparedness
Publications on pediatric preparedness, dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, and other topics. Free online course on dealing with disaster related trauma in young children.

National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement
Bereavement guidelines for schools and parents, template letters to use during times of loss, and other resources.

National Child Traumatic Stress Network
Information for parents and caregivers, professionals, military children and families, educators, and the media. Some materials are available in Spanish.

National Children's Advocacy Center's Psychological Impact of Disaster on Children
Publications and Internet resources pertaining to psychological trauma experienced by children as a result of natural disaster.

National Education Association Health Information Network: School Crisis Guide
A guide on preparing for emergencies, responding competently as a crisis unfolds, and helping students and staff recover after a crisis.

National Institute of Mental Health: Children and Violence
Booklets on helping children and adolescents cope with violence and disasters, for community members, parents, and rescue workers, and related materials.

National Commission on Children and Disasters
Commission meetings and reports, including the 2010 report to the President and Congress, and links to additional resources.

Nemours Center for Children's Health Media: KidsHealth
Educational resources for children, adolescents, parents, educators, and others, on feelings and emotions, dealing with problems, handling stress, and natural disasters.

New York University Child Study Center: Talking About Tough Topics
Tips and guidelines for families on death and grief, war and conflict, 9/11 and disaster, and other traumatic events and tough topics.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Coping with Violence and Traumatic Events
Disaster distress helpline; resources for students, schools, adults, families, responders, and health professionals; information clearinghouses.

Related MCH Digital Library Resources

For more information on this topic, use the MCH Digital Library Advanced Search.

Authors: Olivia K. Pickett, M.A., M.L.S., MCH Digital Library
January 2011. Updated December 2012.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number U02MC31613, MCH Advanced Education Policy, $3.5 M. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.