Volume 26, Number 2

Contents - Volume 26, Number 2

Published November 2022
Volume 26, Number 2 (complete issue)

Contents page - Volume 26, Number 2


Children and Disasters: A tribute to Professor Kevin Ronan

David M. Johnston, Lauren J. Vinnell, Julia S. Becker & Lucy Kaiser

Keywords:children, disaster, research, Australia, New Zealand, United States

In 1997, Professor Kevin Ronan published a paper in the first ever edition of the Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies, titled “The Effects of a “Benign” Disaster: Symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress in Children Following a Series of Volcanic Eruptions”. Over the next 23 years, Kevin and his many colleagues pursued aspects of children and disasters to both improve practice and advance scholarship in this area. In March 2020 we were saddened by the untimely passing of Kevin. As a tribute to Professor Ronan this special issue of the Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies brings together accounts of current research and practice initiatives inspired by, building upon, and directly influenced by Professor Ronan’s work.

Research Papers

The generational gap: Children, adults, and protective actions in response to earthquakes

Rachel M. Adams, Jennifer Tobin, Lori Peek, Jolie Breeden, Sara McBride & Robert de Groot

Keywords: Earthquakes, protective actions, schools, children, earthquake education

In addition to academic curricula, schools offer regular drills to train young people and adult staff on what to do in an emergency or disaster. Earthquake drills in the United States currently recommend the protective action “drop, cover, and hold on” in the event of shaking. Yet, little is known about whether this guidance is followed in schools and homes by children and adults. To fill this gap, this research examined protective actions taken by children and adults during the 2018 Anchorage, Alaska earthquake and the 2019 Ridgecrest, California earthquake sequence. Our research team conducted in-depth interviews with kindergarten to secondary school administrators, teachers, and students, as well with parents, emergency managers, building officials, and engineers (N = 118) in earthquake-affected communities. Our findings indicate that the most common action among children across the study locations was to drop, cover, and hold on. Adults, however, did not always follow current recommended guidance and exhibited more variability in the actions they took in response to shaking, such as trying to protect others, getting in doorways, freezing in place, or rapidly exiting buildings. This research suggests that a generational gap exists that could compromise the safety of young people as well as the adults who care for them. We recommend that earthquake training in schools be strengthened to better prepare both child and adult populations for the threat of earthquakes. Moreover, the emergence of new technologies, like ShakeAlert – the earthquake early warning system for the West Coast of the United States – can create new opportunities for disseminating alert and warning information and preparing populations for impending hazards. Recognising how children and adults may react in an earthquake can improve drills and messaging, refine risk communication strategies, and reduce injury and loss of life.

Researching children and disasters: What’s different in pandemic times?

Christine Gibb, Nnenia Campbell, Gabriella Meltzer & Alice Fothergill

Keywords: Research methods, children, COVID-19 pandemic, ethics, virtual research methods

The repercussions of the global COVID-19 pandemic are far-reaching and extend to the ways in which scholars conduct disaster research. Research on children and disasters is no exception. Focusing on methodologies, this paper explores the methodological constraints and innovations of studying children during the current crisis, and the implications for post-pandemic research on children and disasters. We begin by reviewing research methodologies to study children and disasters, drawing upon scholarly and grey literature as well as on our own research project on the pandemic experiences of children, adolescents, and older adults. We then discuss how these research approaches, tools, and spaces have changed during the pandemic. Methodological adaptation and innovation are necessary because traditional data collection methods are largely not feasible during the current pandemic; for example, many researchers cannot travel to the disaster site, hold in-person focus groups, interview children and their families face-to-face, or conduct extensive participant observation in places people would usually frequent. We pay particular attention to research ethics issues, including the challenges of navigating the research design process when children are involved. We contend that the massive adoption of online methods during the COVID-19 pandemic is laying the foundation for a seventh wave of research on children and disasters characterized by the integration of in-person and virtual worlds, and of in-person and virtual research methods. Rather than initiating this transition to a hybrid or blended model, the pandemic is accelerating the transition, and compelling more of the research community to engage than might have otherwise. The “bricolage” of methods originating in both in-person and virtual fields, adapted in various ways for both in-person and virtual fields, is better attuned to the spaces where children live their lives, and the ways in which they live their lives.

Research Update
Agency expert partners supporting bushfire disaster resilience education for primary school students: A case study in New South Wales, Australia

Tony Jarrett

Keywords: Geography, disaster resilience education, expert partners

This research sits within the context of relationships spanning geography teaching, collaborations with expert partners, natural hazards, disaster resilience education, bushfire, and fire-fighter volunteers as expert partners. The research aims to investigate the situation of fire-fighters being actively involved in student classroom learning and the contribution that fire-fighters make to students’ understanding of bushfire risk in Stage 3 (Years 5 and 6) Geography. This research will also show how expert partners support outcomes that increase the resilience of students and reduce current and future disaster risk. The case school was selected on the basis of bushfire risk level, intended delivery application of an exemplar unit of study, and intended collaboration with involvement of volunteer fire-fighters to assist student learning. Primary data will be collected from teachers, students, parents/carers, and New South Wales Rural Fire Service fire-fighters using semi-structured interviews, observations, and focus groups. The research will deliver findings for emergency services agencies to consider when developing and implementing natural hazards programmes targeted at children, particularly those programmes that are delivered by volunteer fire-fighters.


All papers are protected under the Creative Commons attribution as per our copyright notice.

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