Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief
Disaster leads to disaster - at least, that's the case for adolescent girls after a natural disaster, according to a study from the USA by Sloan et al (2017 and published in JAN. The article is titled: 'Experiences of violence and abuse among internally displaced adolescent girls following a natural disaster' and was based on a study following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
Can you imagine losing your home and possibly your whole family as an adolesecent girl in the wake of a devastating earthquake and ending up homeless, hungry and alone? Could anything be worse? Well, in the case of adolescent girls in Haiti, it could and it did. The study set out to: 'describe the physical, psychological and sexual violence among internally displaced adolescent girls following the 2010 Haiti earthquake.' Computer assisted self-interviews were used to collect information between 2011-2013. The majority of the 78 girls who responded reported some kind of abuse - including sexual - at the hands, often, of boyfriends or other family members. It should be noted that such abuse was reported prior to the earthquake and, due to the low response rate to questions about abuse prior to the earthqaake, it was not entirely clear if there had been an increase.
In conclusion, the authors say: 'The findings from this study are important because they increase our understanding of violence against adolescent girls who were displaced from their homes and separated from their immediate families following a catastrophic natural disaster' and '(T)he results from this study suggest that there are many areas that organizations, foundations and governments can address in the future. Interventions and policy initiatives for adolescent girls should include education that increases their awareness of their vulnerability for gender-based violence as well as strategies for self-protection.'
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Sloand, E., Killion, C., Yarandi, H., Sharps, P., Lewis-O'connor, A., Hassan, M., Gary, F., Muller, C. N. and Campbell, D. (2017), Experiences of violence and abuse among internally displaced adolescent girls following a natural disaster. J Adv Nurs. doi:10.1111/jan.13316