Christchurch earthquake: Children's trauma stirred

Schools and parents are being urged to look out for signs of stress. Photo / Getty Images
Schools and parents are being urged to look out for signs of stress. Photo / Getty Images

Parents in Canterbury are being urged to look out for sign of stress in their children following Sunday's earthquake.

A 5.7 earthquake rattled the region in the early afternoon of Valentine's Day - just weeks out from the fifth anniversary of the quake which decimated the city and killed 185 people. There was large rockfalls around Sumner, and some schools received damage.

Mike Coleman, a councillor at Middleton Grange School, said they were seeing less children showing signs of stress, but this could now change.

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"Every pupil reacts differently to these quakes, but this last quake has real potential to re-trigger trauma through pupils right throughout Canterbury."

Coleman said parents and schools should be on the look out for signs of stress, "like crying more than usual, very quiet, overly angry, tantrums, because effectively children show what's going on for them in their behaviour."

It is important for kids to get help if need be, and schools will have a list of agencies they can go to, Coleman pointed out.


Around $13.5 million has been earmarked to support psychosocial services and initiatives in Canterbury over the next four years, while the Mental Health Education and Resource Centre had additional money set aside to meet any spike in demand around the fifth anniversary.

However, the Ministry of Social Development said it's not yet known what additional demand for services will result from the latest quake.

Lucy Daeth, public health specialist for the All Right Campaign, noted yesterday that while there wasn't much physical damage, the social recovery for the region has been set back.

She says it will have people on edge again, after things felt like they were getting back to normal.

"At one stage we were quite used to them but now it feels like a horrible shock and of course people are very concerned about how other people are doing, about people out East who've got liquefaction, about the people in Sumner who see cliffs collapsing..."

"As hard to believe as it might be for the rest of the country, we're still pretty fragile in Christchurch and still trying to come to terms with what's happening."

Close to 500 Christchurch residents have lodged insurance claims with the Earthquake Commission since Sunday's rumble.

EQC CEO Ian Simpson wasn't surprised by the number, and he notes it's on par with the number of claims received following the Cook Straight earthquake in 2013.

Residents have three months to lodge their claims.

Cantabrians are also being urged to update their survival kits following the quake.

Survive It managing director Steven McLauchlan said survival kits at home and the car need regular upkeep, by checking batteries every threesix months and changing water supplies at least once a year.

- Newstalk ZB

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