20 August 2018

Children aren’t liabilities in disasters – they can help, if we let them

This article discusses the role of children and young people in disasters. While they are often excluded from involvement in planning for, and helping after, disasters, this goes against the best practice recommended by the United Nations’ Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. The Office notes that as children are disproportionately affected by disasters, they should be given the opportunity to contribute to disaster risk reduction. The authors argue that excluding children limits their opportunities to contribute to the development of disaster response policy and practice and undermines their capacity for resilience. Research in bushfire-prone areas of Australia highlights the significant benefits of providing children with genuine opportunities to participate. The authors also discuss a range of ways to include children and young people, including those living with disability, in disaster planning and helping in actual disasters. They note there are significant benefits in giving children opportunities to identify their own capacities and provide children with genuine opportunities to participate.