In his book Why: The Question that Never Goes Away, author Philip Yancey describes the devastation of the March 11, 2011 Japanese tsunami.
“On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake shook the east coast of Japan for three to five minutes…
“Then came the wave. A wall of water, first taking shape far out in the ocean by the quake’s epicenter, accelerated to 500 mph as it sped toward land…The tsunami crashed over protective sea walls like a giant stepping over a curb
“The earthquake had such force that, incredibly, it jolted Japan’s largest island some eight feet closer to North America…Then came the wave. A wall of water, first taking shape far out in the ocean by the quake’s epicenter, accelerated to 500 mph as it sped toward land…The tsunami crashed over protective sea walls lie a giant stepping over a curb.”
He goes to paint a picture of the devastation to the nation’s children that day: “In an elementary school seventy-four students died as school officials were sorting out procedures for leading them up a hill just behind the school. Some of the children broke free to scramble upward across snowy ground, only to lose their voting and slip into the wave’s deadly maw.”
The survey was conducted by a health ministry study group about two years after the disaster, covering 198 children in the devastated prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, as well as 82 children in unaffected Mie Prefecture.
They are unable to clearly communicate their symptoms and their feelings and seldom initiate conversation about their problems. Parents and health professionals must be aware of the risk and symptoms and take steps to have children evaluated.
If you know of a child who has experienced a natural disaster or other devastating life event, consult with a mental health professional trained in childhood trauma. Don’t know where to start? Visit the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.
Photo Credit: TheGuardian.com