INTRODUCTION

The January 1994 earthquake was one of the most dramatic and unpredictable events that had ever occurred to many children in the Los Angeles area. They were awakened at 4:31 a.m. by a frightening shaking of the earth, their beds rocking--sometimes moving across the room furniture tumbling over, walls rattling, toys falling off the shelves. In many instances they saw their parents upset and frightened and perhaps clutching them.

An earthquake is a natural disaster. Other such events are fire, flood, or tornadoes. These are traumatic or frightening events that may occur in some children's lives. These events result in families having to leave their homes and familiar surroundings.

A child does not usually understand such events and feels confused, anxious, and frightened. In the concern for the physical safety of the child and family, attention to and awareness of the emotional consequences to the child are frequently neglected. We cannot control these events. However, they need not result in permanent emotional damage to the child.