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Volume 1999-1

The Australasian Journal of Disaster
and Trauma Studies
ISSN:  1174-4707
Volume : 1999-1

Kevin R Ronan, School of Psychology, Massey University, New Zealand. Email: K.R.Ronan@massey.ac.nz

Volume : 1999-1

Dr Kevin R Ronan
Associate Editor

School of Psychology,
Massey University
New Zealand

Special Edition
Children, trauma and disasters

This issue of the Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies contains two of its three articles on issues pertaining to children, trauma, and disasters. Thus, with this issue, we signal our continuing commitment to reviewing and publishing articles in the area of children, adolescence, and families.

The first of the two articles (Huzziff & Ronan, 1999) addresses predictors of children's ability to cope with a volcanic eruption. {The action editor for this manuscript was Douglas Paton.} This research is part of a seven month longitudinal study conducted after the eruption of Mount Ruapehu in 1995 (Ronan, 1997a, b; Ronan & Johnston, in press; see also Johnston & Ronan, in press). While we found that a brief, school based intervention to be effective in reducing self-reported PTSD-related distress and increasing coping ability (Ronan & Johnston, in press), this research looks at predictors of change in coping in the two month interval prior to that intervention. The findings of this study clearly have implications for the planning of future interventions in the wake of a disaster.

The second article (Woolley & Gabriels, 1999) presents findings combining a quantitative and qualitative methodology to address children's perceptions of sexual abuse prevention. These authors present both group-based and more individual responses. Despite the fact that children had gone through a prevention programme, children appeared to have some difficulties in clearly identifying higher risk situations. In addition, common misconceptions continued to be reported. On the other hand, knowledge increased with age. The authors discuss their findings in terms of developmental concepts impacting learning. Here again, as with the other article, these findings have clear implications for sexual abuse prevention programmes designed to help keep children safe.

I would add here that other research (e.g., Ronan & Johnston, 1997) has found that as children progressed through increasing levels of education, their recall of prevention-related information--in this case related to hazards--similarly increased. Thus, based on these findings, it may be that education programmes for children concerned with a range of stimuli related to trauma and disasters may be best delivered in a sequential fashion taking developmental factors into account. Thus, programmes for young children would contain basic concepts that would be in line with the child's ability to assimilate information. Later modules would then incorporate increasingly differentiated information designed to capitalize on children's increasing ability to understand more refined concepts.

As a final note, let me take this opportunity to invite those in our readership who have a commitment to assessment, treatment, and other forms of research with children to consider submitting manuscripts to this journal. In doing so, we would also invite those manuscripts to consider the pragmatic implications of their findings to promote the welfare of children and their families.


Huzziff, C. A. & Ronan, K. R. (1999). Prediction of children's coping following a natural disaster _ the Mount Ruapehu eruptions: A prospective study. Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies, 1999-1. Retreived June 7, 1999 from the World Wide Web: http://www.massey.ac.nz/~trauma/issues/1999-1/huzziff1.htm

Johnston, D. M. & Ronan, K. R. (in press). Risk education and intervention. Encyclopedia of Volcanoes (H. Siggurdsson, Ed.). New York: Academic Press.

Ronan, K. R. & Johnston, D. M. (in press). Behaviourally-based interventions for children following volcanic eruptions: An evaluation of efficacy. International Journal of Disaster Prevention and Management.

Ronan, K. R. (1997a). The effects of a series of volcanic eruptions on emotional and behavioural functioning in children with athsma. New Zealand Medical Journal, 110, 11-13.

Ronan, K. R. (1997b). The effects of a "benign" disaster: Symptoms of posttraumatic stress in children following a series of volcanic eruptions. Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies, 1997-1 Retreived July 7, 1998 from the World Wide Web: http://www.massey.ac.nz/~trauma/issues/1997-1/ronan1.htm

Ronan, K. R. & Johnston, D. M. (1997). Auckland school children's risk perceptions and preparedness: Hazards education survey. Technical report prepared for Auckland Regional Council/Auckland City Council.

Woolley, C. C. M. & Gabriels, T. C. M. (1999). Children's conceptualisation of some child sexual abuse prevention concepts as taught by 'Keeping Ourselves Safe', a New Zealand prevention programme. Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies, 1999-1. Retreived June 7, 1999 from the World Wide Web: http://www.massey.ac.nz/~trauma/issues/1999-1/woolley1.htm


Kevin R Ronan © 1999. The author assigns to the Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies at Massey University a non-exclusive licence to use this document for personal use and in courses of instruction provided that the article is used in full and this copyright statement is reproduced. The authors also grant a non-exclusive licence to Massey University to publish this document in full on the World Wide Web and for the document to be published on mirrors on the World Wide Web. Any other usage is prohibited without the express permission of the author.

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