Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters as they are still developing an understanding of their social world and necessary coping mechanisms to withstand stress resulting from disasters. In the absence of effective coping, the meaning and impact of traumatic events may continue to play a role in the personality and psychological development of the child. The present study examined the efforts of children to cope with emotional distress 15 and 18 months after the tsunami in 2004. This study included a stratified random sample of 126 nine to twelve year old school children (63 girls and 63 boys). Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used for data collection and analysis. The findings of the current study clearly offer insights into how children attempt to cope with traumatic experiences. The level of emotional distress varied significantly depending upon the type of coping strategy used. Children reported using religion (83%) most frequently, followed by distraction (82%) and social support (81%) as coping strategies. The least frequently used coping strategies were social withdrawal (20%) and blaming others (21%). Children's coping choices indicated that at various stages of a child's emotional experience to a traumatic event, different methods of coping bring effective benefits. The findings indicate tremendous resilience in the majority of children to cope with extreme distress.
Sri Lankan Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences Vol.1(2) Oct 2009