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Children still missing out after quakes

Children still missing out after quakes

“Even in developed countries, disasters have a knack of finding the poor and vulnerable

“Children in Christchurch are missing out on the conditions they need to grow into healthy adults,” says the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).

CPAG has launched a new paper on the impact of the Canterbury earthquakes on children, supported by the Canterbury & West Coast branch of the Public Health Association (PHA).

The paper shows children’s health and wellbeing have been significantly affected by the earthquakes and long-term issues are now emerging. In the first three months of 2013, the Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health Service had twice the number of emergency incidents they would usually receive. Health problems are also becoming more serious and include family violence and adult mental health issues in young people.

The impacts of the earthquake are disproportionately impacting children from low-income families.

CPAG spokesperson Sara Epperson says, “International research has shown that vulnerable groups in a community are the most affected by natural disasters. Christchurch has been no exception.”

The paper reveals major changes to the school environment in Christchurch over this period have also contributed to family stress. Additionally, the condition and availability of rental housing in Christchurch has impacted heavily on low-income families, causing great stress for children.

PHA Canterbury and West Coast Branch chair Rachel Eyre says, “Children’s recovery from a traumatic event is greatly helped if they are in secure, safe housing and if their school is able to provide a stable and familiar environment. Some people might think the earthquake impacts are diminishing. But for children living in more damaged communities, the disruption of school changes and lack of a permanent place to live continues to undermine their recovery.”

The complete background paper is available on the CPAG website (http://www.cpag.org.nz/assets/Backgrounders/140227%20CPAG%20Children%20and%20the%20Canterbury%20Feb2014.pdf).

CPAG warmly thanks the PHA for supporting the launch.


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