When children experience upheaval and trauma, adults often view them as either vulnerable and helpless or as resilient and able to easily “bounce back.” But the reality is far more complex for the children and youth whose lives are suddenly upended by disaster. How are children actually affected by catastrophic events and how do they cope with the damage and disruption?
Children of Katrina offers one of the only long-term, multiyear studies of young people following disaster. Sociologists Alice Fothergill and Lori Peek spent seven years after Hurricane Katrina interviewing and observing several hundred children and their family members, friends, neighbors, teachers, and other caregivers. In this book, they focus intimately on seven children between the ages of three and eighteen, selected because they exemplify the varied experiences of the larger group. They find that children followed three different post-disaster trajectories—declining, finding equilibrium, and fluctuating—as they tried to regain stability. The children’s moving stories illuminate how a devastating disaster affects individual health and well-being, family situations, housing and neighborhood contexts, schooling, peer relationships, and extracurricular activities. This work also demonstrates how outcomes were often worse for children who were vulnerable and living in crisis before the storm. Fothergill and Peek clarify what kinds of assistance children need during emergency response and recovery periods, as well as the individual, familial, social, and structural factors that aid or hinder children in getting that support.
Children of Katrina is now available at University of Texas Press.
International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters: "If there can ever be an authoritative work on the experiences of children following a catastrophe like Katrina, this is certainly it." Timothy J. Haney, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Mount Royal University.
Children, Youth, and Environments: "Children of Katrina is a masterful book, contributing to knowledge about not just disasters but the literatures on children, family studies, aging and the life course, social inequality, qualitative methods and longitudinal research. The authors diligently and ethically carried out this enormous project across seven years, with potential for even longer-term follow-up. While they made it look easy, enormous human skills and social/emotional intelligence were necessary to do this kind of work. The authors listened carefully and respectfully to their participants. The fact that no focal families withdrew from the study is a strong testament that great care was taken in the process of conducting the research. Further, the voices of the children came through, as did the authors’ sensitivity to multiple forms of social difference." Maria Schmeeckle, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Illinois State University.
Natural Hazards Observer: "Cierra and Daniel are just two of the seven children whose experiences were meticulously documented by Fothergill and Peek. Through these very personal stories, the authors underscore that disasters are not equal-opportunity events. Children, like adolescents and adults, are positioned differently based on their race, social class, age, and gender before disasters strike. However, the authors also show that recovery trajectories are not necessarily the same even for children who share pre-disaster vulnerabilities. By carefully listening to children, their parents, teachers, and other adults who are involved in children’s lives, the authors identified many of the factors that contribute to a downward trajectory. Fothergill and Peek offer detailed recommendations for improved disaster preparedness, response, and recovery efforts for children and youth in each of the spheres they studied...The arresting subject matter and the authors’ thorough and honest approach make this book a critical addition to the field. Although written for a wide audience, it would serve as an especially useful read for policy makers in charge of disaster recovery." Elke Weesjes, Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado
Publishers Weekly: "From the first sentence (“For Cierra, the sound of Katrina is the sound of ‘people screaming’ ”), readers will be riveted by this account of a seven-year research study into the lives of children who experienced Hurricane Katrina... Simple graphs help illustrate some of the more complex concepts (recovery trajectories, for example), and selections of poetry and artwork by the children add flavor to their stories. Readers expecting a purely feel-good story of triumph over adversity will be disappointed, but both laypeople and specialists interested in how children cope with large-scale trauma should find this extensively researched study worth the effort."
Book Release Party
Fothergill, Alice and Lori Peek. "Lessons from Katrina: Recommendations for Fostering More Effective Disaster Preparedness, Response and Recovery Efforts for Children and Youth." Canadian Risk and Hazards Network HazNet Newsletter 5(2): 4-9.
Peek, Lori and Alice Fothergill. "Post-Disaster Decline: Understanding Children’s Vulnerability Before, During, and After Katrina" Dialogue 10(3), 2-4.
Peek, Lori, Alice Fothergill, Jessica W. Pardee, and Lynn Weber. "Studying Displacement: New Networks, Lessons Learned*" Sociological Inquiry 84(3) August, 354–359.
Peek, Lori. “Age.” Social Vulnerability to Disasters, 2nd ed., edited by D.S.K. Thomas, B.D. Phillips, W.E. Lovekamp, and A. Fothergill, pp. 167-198. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
Fothergill, Alice and Lori Peek. “Permanent Temporariness: Displaced Children in Louisiana.” Displaced: Life in the Katrina Diaspora, edited by L. Weber and L. Peek, pp. 119-143. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Peek, Lori. “Age.” Social Vulnerability to Disasters, edited by B. D. Phillips, D. S. K. Thomas, A. Fothergill, and L. Blinn-Pike, pp. 155-185. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
Peek, Lori and Alice Fothergill. “Parenting in the Wake of Disaster: Mothers and Fathers Respond to Hurricane Katrina.” Women, Gender, and Disaster: Global Issues and Initiatives, edited by E. Enarson and D. Chakrabarti, pp. 112-130. New Dehli: Sage.
Peek, Lori and Alice Fothergill. “Using Focus Groups: Lessons from Studying Daycare Centers, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina.” Qualitative Research 9(1): 31-59.
Peek, Lori. 2008. “Children and Disasters: Understanding Vulnerability, Developing Capacities, and Promoting Resilience.” Children, Youth, and Environments 18(1): 1-29.
Peek, Lori and Alice Fothergill. 2008. “Displacement, Gender, and the Challenges of Parenting after Hurricane Katrina.” National Women’s Studies Association Journal 20(3): 69-105.
Peek, Lori and Alice Fothergill. “Reconstructing Childhood: An Exploratory Study of Children in Hurricane Katrina.” Quick Response Report #186. Boulder: Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center, University of Colorado.
Fothergill, Alice and Lori Peek. “Surviving Catastrophe: A Study of Children in Hurricane Katrina.” Learning from Catastrophe: Quick Response Research in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina, pp. 97-130. Boulder: Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado.