Facing war, terrorism, and disaster: Toward a child-oriented comprehensive emergency care system

Nathaniel Laor*, Leo Wolmer, Smadar Spirman, Ze'ev Wiener

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The combination of the overwhelming nature of disasters and the massive losses they engender gives rise to a complex clinical and social picture with long-term physical, psychological, and social effects on children, families, and communities. The authors suggest that to assess the damage properly, implement interventions on a large scale, keep tabs on rising needs, and restore societal function, mental health professionals must adopt an ecologic systems approach. This approach entails working within and together with related institutions (education, health, local government) and assisting other committed professionals within these institutions to mediate care. This is of utmost importance in the area of children's care because of their particular vulnerability and their special importance for families and society. For this reason, the authors suggest that emergency mental health systems be better designed and implemented while keeping children at the center of their focus. An essential component of the ecologic systems approach is improved education for mental health professionals, providing them the appropriate tools to cope with widespread disaster and the expertise to apply these tools. This approach, however, is not enough. A good outcome cannot be achieved without preparedness on the part of the other relevant institutions and the community as a whole. Greater awareness is needed among local and national authorities of the importance of metaadaptive systems and of local, national, and international networking. In the current global village that is threatened by pervasive terrorism, no community must face it alone. The challenge of a disaster to one community is a challenge to all. By working together we can lessen the devastating impact of these events, save countless lives, prevent untold suffering, and maintain hope for a better world for children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-361
Number of pages19
JournalChild and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2003


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