There are many elementary school children making the rounds of disaster evacuation shelters to look for their missing parents. Others are searching the rubble of collapsed buildings for mementos such as photos as well as their belongings. Some children were seen to smile during their school graduation ceremonies. People across the country are trying to cheer up these children in quake- and tsunami-hit areas.
More than 10,000 people have been confirmed dead and some 16,000 others remain missing following the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake. Facing this unbelievable reality, anybody would want to encourage child survivors to help them conquer hardships already experienced and those sure to come.
However, children are already doing their best. Even though they do not understand what has happened to them as much as adults and cannot express their feelings, they can also suffer from disaster trauma and become overwhelmed with grief after losing their family members, their homes or both.
Rather than simply urging children to overcome the disaster, what is needed is to look for subtle changes in their emotions and provide appropriate psychological support.
Children who have experienced such a massive disaster tend to complain of insomnia and loss of appetite, act infantile, be frightened by loud sounds, easily lose their temper, have nightmares and refuse activities they enjoyed before the traumatic event.
If children begin to show these symptoms, adequate care should be provided to them, such as telling them, "You're all right," and avoiding letting them sleep alone, in order to reassure them.
Japan must not overlook mental health of children in disaster zone - The Mainichi Daily News