Review of "Helping Children Cope With Disasters and Terrorism"
By Annette M. LA Greca, Wendy K. Silverman and Eric M. Vernberg (editors) American Psychological Association, 2002 Review by Lloyd A. Wells, Ph.D., M.D. on Dec 2nd 2002
This lengthy book is the work of
many authors, with good editorial direction from the four editors.It addresses a great many situations in
which children must face disaster; accordingly, it is a timely book.The vast bulk of the book addresses
disasters such as floods and fires, and the terrorism chapters are at the very
This book is filled with findings
and data, many of which have interesting and sometimes useful
implications.It derives from a policy
developed in 1995 by the American Psychological Association well before the September
Saylor and DeRoma present an
excellent, succinct discussion of the assessment of children and adolescents
exposed to disaster, after an introductory chapter on definitions.Vernberg then discusses approaches to
intervention after disaster, and Rabalais and colleagues discuss cultural
issues in relation to disasters.This
introduces the book.The remainder is
much more technical, with chapters on hurricanes and earthquakes, wilderness and
wildfire disasters, floods, residential fires, toxic waste spills and nuclear
accidents, mass transportation disasters, dam breaks, motor vehicle accidents,
shootings and hostage takings, terrorism, war, and community violence.The editors contribute a final chapter on
future directions for research and public policy.
To be frank, most of this book is
dry reading and is occupied with tests and measures but very helpful and
important tests and measures.
There are some high points.The introductory chapters and the summary
chapter really lift the book to a high level.There is a very useful table in the introductory chapter by Saylor and
DeRoma, which lists aspects of the instruments that can be used in various
disasters.The chapter on terrorism by
Gurwitch, Sitterle, Young and Pfefferbaum is really outstanding and blends various
theoretical approaches into a very pragmatic approach.The chapter on war is useful and
thought-provoking, as is the chapter on community violence.The discussion of research issues and the
table about them provided in the summary chapter are outstanding, and the index
is very well constructed.
Negative aspects of this book
include inevitably boring reading about various important tests and instruments
that can be used, and sometimes turgid writing.
General readers will find this book
boring and too technical.Psychologists
who might need to assess children in the course of a disaster should definitely
have access to it.
Lloyd A. Wells,
Ph.D., M.D., is a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. He has a
particular interest in philosophical issues related to psychiatry and in the
logic used in psychiatric discourse.