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1 PSYCHOLOGICAL NEEDS OF CHILDREN IN CRISIS SITUATION Pr Louis CROCQ (France) Comité National de l’Urgence Médico-Psychologique Colloque « Autoprotection.

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Presentation on theme: "1 PSYCHOLOGICAL NEEDS OF CHILDREN IN CRISIS SITUATION Pr Louis CROCQ (France) Comité National de l’Urgence Médico-Psychologique Colloque « Autoprotection."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 PSYCHOLOGICAL NEEDS OF CHILDREN IN CRISIS SITUATION Pr Louis CROCQ (France) Comité National de l’Urgence Médico-Psychologique Colloque « Autoprotection avec les enfants : quelles ressources pédagogiques pour améliorer la préparation au sein de la communauté » (Croix-Rouge française – 7-9 avril 2010)

2 2 I – EVENTS WHICH MAKE CRISIS Différent situations of the child in these events

3 3 A – PRINCIPAL CRITICAL EVENTS that can concern children 1 – Natural disasters - earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruption, landslide - storms, hurricanes, typhoons, ras de marée - torrential rain, flooding, avalanches 2 – Accidental disasters - collapse or fire of houses or édifices, - transport accidents (train, bus, airplane, ship) 3 – War disasters - bombing, scrafing - terrorist attempts 4 – Society disasters - crowd movements, collective panics in stadium, or rooms, riot - hostage taking, death of a pupil in school

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5 5 B - Psycho-social characters of these events 1 – They bring misfortune, 2 – They causes destructions of matérial estate and goods 3 – They cause victims, dead, wounded, shocked (stressed) 4 – They overwhelm (or put in tension) the local rescue means, 5 – They impair or stagger the urban networks (energy, water, food, shelter, circulation, communication, order keeping, medical cares, education, etc.) The whole community is concerned (also the uninjured). Everybody (victim, public, managers and rescuers) is impacted : In his individual ego and in his communautary ego (feeling of appartenance to the community)

6 6 C – Ge neral criteria of crisis 1 – Breaking in the continuum of the events 2 -- Point of fork (ou pluri-forking) 3 – Threat against the functioning and the values (for individuals and community) 4 – Has a stake (at the end of the threat : life, integrity, freedom…) 5 – Implicates emergency (and necessity to act) 6 – Happens often in deteriorated situation (material deterioration, lack of informations, inadéquation of the means, lack of control) 7 – Unrolls under psychological tension (stress) (for individuals, groups and population)

7 7 D - Persons implicated in a crisis 1 - Deciders and managers 2 - Officers and executives 3 - Active partners : firemen, police, préfecture, médical personels 4 - Direct implicated : persons on site, wounded, shocked, witness 5 - Indirect implicated (out of site) : families, friends 6 - General population, public (compassion, opinion, rumours) 7 - The médias (interfere) According to day and hour of the event, children can be in position of : - direct implicated - indirect implicated - among the public

8 8 E - Different situations of the child during crisis 1 – At home, in présence of his parents and brothers-sisters 2 – At home, without his parents (alone or with brothers-sisters) 3 – In the street, or outside (promenade) with his parents 4 – In a transport (auto, bus, train, plane, ship) with his parents 5 – At school, with his fellows and in presence of teachers (or at the stadium, or in holiday camp) 6 - Outside (street, park) in présence of unknown adults 7 - Outside, without adults (alone or with fellows or brothers-sisters) 8 – In a transport, without parents neither teachers In all these emergency situations, we must distinguish : a - situations where the child is supervised by parents or teachers b - situations where he is in présence of unknown adults c - situations where there is no adult (alone or with other children)

9 9 II – AUTONOMY DEGREE OF THE CHILD According to the stage of development

10 10 A - The stages in dévelopment of the child somatic (neurologic), cognitive, affective, willing and relation to others -1st phase (0 to 2 years) : little child 1st year : symbiose mother-child, oral stage (suction, repletion) 2d year : anal stage, rétention-expulsion, ambivalence active/passive sensori-motrice intelligence, speaking -2d phase (3 to 5 years) : pré-oedipe and oedipe 3d year : stade phallique, curiosity for sexe, anxiety of castration 4-5 years : oedipe complex, différence between sexes, parental forbiden Cognitive symbolic dévelopment (language), preoperatory thinking/act -3d phase (6 to 12 years) : latency phase Sexual pulsions in sleep, identification to the adult of same sexe Scolarisation, concret opérations, anticipation, reasoning -4th phase (13 to 17 ans) : adolescence Somatic and hormonal revolution, waking of sexual pulsions Abstract thinking, ideals, projets ; opposition, agressivity, bands

11 11 B - The 6-12 years child : personality in the making The 6-12 years child is a personality in the making. His development - neuro-organic, physical, cognitive, emotional and volitional - contributes to help build his beeing ; and determines what he will become as an adult. As long as this development has not taken place, the child will not be stable ; he will be more receptive to influences (good or bad) and susceptible to acquire behaviours which will persist for the rest of his life : - very adaptable behaviours, good at fitting and socially well integrated - inadaptable behaviours, incapable of fitting in, and socially deviant

12 12 C - Dependence and autonomy of the 6-12 years child The child depends on his parents (and adult teachers) for the satisfaction of his essential needs : - shelter, food and drink, clothing, - to feel protected, and secure - to be shown affection, and to show affection in return - to understand a coherent world, free from the scary and imaginary - to receive instructions for acting in this world - to communicate, to be taugh a language Insecure, fragile and vulnerable, he is incapable of providing his own safety and protection By identification, effect of examplarity and imitation, he considers his parents and familiar adults as role models ; he will obey and will look for their approval and their encouragement. But he imitates them for progressively conquering his autonomy

13 13 D - The « lowest common denominator » We must observe and evaluate the child in his natural physical and social environment. For study the child psychology and the child behaviour, the lowest common denominator is not the individual child’s beeing, but everyone collectively : Child + parents + familiar adults + teachers + close friends Fixed in a given time, in a familiar space with special importance (family, home, school, shops)

14 14 III – THE 6-12 YEARS CHILD FACE TO CRITICAL SITUATIONS Vulnerability and stress

15 15 A – The 6-12 years child’s imaginary of risk 1 - The child’s imaginary hinders his objective view of the risk The imaginary travesties the real (also in TV reports) The imaginary of death is : -a/ sweetened (reversible) -b/ threatening, obscure, crouched in the unconscious 2 - His foreseen of a destructive future is paired with denial His optimism refuses to believe the eventuality of a disaster 3 - His preparation for behaviour schémas remains ludic All the preparative exercices are lived as a play The modern child is always playing with video simulated disasters

16 16 B - The child’stress when disaster strikes When a disaster really strikes : a - If the child is in family, he receives 2 traumas : his own, and – in mirror – the one of his parents whose he sees the powerlessness b - If he is alone in home, he will feel vulnerable and abandoned c - If he is at school, he will feel more secure but afraid d - If he is in the street, surrounded with unknowns, he will be in disarray and unsecurity - All these situations are potentially traumatogenous, by sudden confrontation with the real of death and nothingless. - In all these cases, the child feels an intensive stress, perhaps traumatic stress

17 17 C – Adapted and overwhelmed stress reactions Adapted stress (75% of the cases) - focalises attention, - mobilises mental capacities (judgment, memory, reasoning), - pushes toward action Overwelmed stress : (25% of the cases) 4 modalities : 1 – Stuporous staggering : remains motionless and staggered in the danger 2 – Psychomotor agitation : gesticulates, shouts, weeps, runs in all directions 3 – Panic distracted flight : flights straight ahead, even toward danger, hustles others 4 – Automatic acting : repeats without understand unuseful or dangerous gestures

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19 19 IV – INCIDENCES FOR PREPAREDNESS Preparation to help the child face dangerous crisis situation

20 20 A – Preparedness principles Must allow for an establishment of risk education (a culture of risk) - reasonable (without scare tactics), informative without beeing alarmist - must instil discipline, regard for others (or at least unselfishness) - must be taught what decisions to take « in the event of... » - must encourage without fail the child to be able to act alone if necessary (to prepare himself : « what must I do if there is no adult around ? ») Omnipresence of the protective adult imago : - In the event of danger, the child will look for the protection by adults and he relies on them to be there for protection. - Even if he should find himself alone to face danger, he will refer back to the examples set by adults and what he has been taught to do

21 21 B – In practice Four phases in the teaching-training plan : 1 - INFORMATION : « earth can quake, home can burn, etc. » 2 - EDUCATION : « you do not must escape alone, you must also help others" 3 - INSTRUCTION : « learn what you must do in cas of... » 4 - TRAINING : exercices framed, explained and repeated - In this préparation, we will take as probable case of figure the child in habitual situation (family or school), framed by adults, surrounded by brothers-sisters or fellows, and in a well known environment. But we must also foresee the cases : child alone at home, or in the street without familiar adults near him.

22 22 C – Importance of training Acquire sequences of gestures to make : - in reasoning manner when danger is présent, - and also in reflex manner, quasi automatic, if the stress hinders to déliberate his decision (memory of harms and legs) And repeat these exercices several times in the year Always framed by teachers adults and preceded by explanations. Advise the child to adopt these standard reflex behaviours, - if he is at home without his parents (alone or with brothers-sisters) - if he is isolated in the street, among panic-stricken people

23 23 CONCLUSION (1) - The child is a personality in the making, insecure and vulnerable - Materially anf affectively, he depends on his parents - He is incapable of providing his own safety and protection - His imaginary of danger is frightening and uncontroled Non confiding in himself, non informed, non trained, he can react to danger by reactions of owerwhelmed stress, nocive for him and people surrounding

24 24 CONCLUSION (2) However : - he spontaneously considers his parents and teachers as models, - he has good capacities of learning and social insertion In these conditions, it is possible to teach him a culture of risk : - realistic but non alarmist, - practical (explained and with repeated exercices) - applicable in the most probable case with parents or teaching adults present, in habitual environment ; - applicable also in the exceptional case where the child should be without these habitual adults, alone at home or in the street with panic-stricken people


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