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Quick Facts and Tips: Risk Factors for Trauma Reaction

With support from parents and teachers, most students will successfully cope with this tragedy and not suffer significant emotional consequences. However, some may be at risk for more extreme reactions. The severity of these reactions will depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • Personal Circumstances—Students who come from, or may have lost loved ones in, Haiti are an especially high-risk group.
  • Trauma History—Children who have previously been exposed to natural disasters (especially earthquakes), have already experienced significant loss, and/or are currently coping with other critical incidents can be considered a high-risk group.
  • Excessive Media Exposure—Otherwise unaffected students may become fearful of the earthquake following excessive exposure to graphic media reports.
  • Parents’ Reactions and Family Support—Altered family functioning, separation from parents, and ongoing parental distress and preoccupation with the earthquake are risk factors.
  • Emotional Reactivity—Children who tend to be anxious are those most likely to display trauma reactions.
  • Mental Health—Children who have a preexisting mental disorder, particularly an anxiety disorder, are at greater risk.
  • Coping Style—The use of blame and anger as ways of coping may create more distress for children, and the primary use of avoidance coping strategies can predict negative mental health outcomes.

* Japanese translation (with English included) (PDF)