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Families Responding to Disaster

How can adults support children who live through a hurricane or a war, witness a violent act, or even learn of horrible events from the media? How can we make our children feel safe when we ourselves are deeply shaken? 

Unitarian Universalist (UU) responses to a disaster are grounded in our faith in the human capacity to feel, to heal, to work to make things better, and—most of all—to help one another. The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) offers resources for parents and faith communities to cope with the trauma of a disaster and to help children cope. Most recently, after the December 14, 2012, shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, the UUA Resource Development Office posted resources to help children, families, and communities process this tragedy.

Immediately After a Disaster

Professionals recommend that immediately after a disaster, adults' first priority must be to reduce children's fears and anxiety. If you are directly affected by a catastrophe, keep the family together, even if you must search for assistance or housing. Children may be concerned that they could lose you, too. Encourage children to ask questions, to talk, and to express their feelings. Give calm, straightforward responses. Reassure children of your love, and affirm your commitment to getting family life back to normal. Let them know that love is being sent to them by children and families from far away, because this is so very true.

UUA Workshops

For more information contact families @

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Thursday, December 20, 2012.

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