Years after Katrina, journalists have revealed the effects of the hurricane’s damage on the lives of the children affected by it. More than a decade later, these kids (now adults) are still recovering from the trauma of that time. On top of that, journalists have uncovered how inadequately prepared the government truly is when it comes to dealing with kids after a disaster.
The main issue that came up when journalists interviewed the Katrina kids was the dismissal of feelings. There are a lot of small things that are very important to a kid that can seem inconsequential to an adult, so their sadness over losing them is often overlooked.
For example, Shannon Lafferre lost her hermit crab, Scooby, during the storm. She cried and cried over her beloved pet, but her grandma yelled at her for mourning over that when their house was gone. As a practical adult, it is quite childish to cry over something so small when food and shelter are on the line. However, as a kid, you have different priorities in life. Not being allowed to miss or cry over a “small thing” can really affect the way kids deal with emotions.
Another issue is that trauma during a kid’s formative years will significantly impact their development. One year is a lot for a child, so spending that year going from shelter to shelter, losing your possessions, and losing loved ones are traumatic experiences that will stick with them forever. Living in fear and anxiety without proper coping mechanisms will scar a child. Especially with parents who are also going through a stressful time and dealing with trauma, kids don’t have a solid support system or resource to help them get through it.
Many of the organizations who helped during the disaster did amazing work saving people. However, the general attitude of “you lived, so you should be good” is not something kids need to hear. This teaches them to dismiss their emotions instead of talk about them to sort them out. More than a decade later, many of the kids who lived through the disaster are still having nightmares due to the trauma they experienced. Despite their dedication to helping the victims of the disaster, the government has no solid presidential strategy to deal with children. If they are classified as a distinct group of people, then the government can potentially plan better for their recovery.