A professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Louisiana State University told a National Public Radio interviewer that children who survived Hurricane Harvey could face serious trauma as they try to readjust to a “normal” life.
Professor Joy Osofsky worked with children in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In a recent interview with NPR, she warned as children in Houston return to school, parents and teachers can expect to see some behavioral changes that correspond to those found in trauma survivors.
“You will get some children who may withdraw and not be able to concentrate and participate in the school,” said Osofsky. “But it’s more likely to see acting out behavior.”
She recommended teachers and school administrators address such behaviors as soon as possible, rather than waiting for an incident to occur and attempting to steer the child’s behavior back in the right direction.
She also advised teachers to talk to their students about the “difficult experience” of adjusting to the school routine after such a devastating event.
“’We’re here to be supportive of you and understand the kinds of things that you’ve gone through.’” she advised teachers to tell their students. “’We’re going to work to establish the routines in school that you’re used to, which we know is very important in adapting to the new situation. But we also want you to know that we’re available to listen to you if that would be helpful.”
She also acknowledged that children often have an easier time adapting to the change in routine than adults in a similar situation. She commented on her observations following children who attempted to readjust after Katrina.
“We saw so much resilience in the children,” she said. “And that’s something that’s extremely important to emphasize, that most children will be resilient.”