Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



Although numerous studies have focused on the harmful effects of natural disasters, few have examined the positive adjustment that is demonstrated by some individuals post-disaster. Even fewer studies have investigated this resiliency in children. The current study aims to address this limitation by evaluating variables related to children’s resiliency post-disaster. Specifically, the study was designed to identify and compare predictors of positive adjustment in youth who were exposed to either Hurricane Katrina or the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. It was hypothesized that children who use more adaptive coping strategies and have higher levels of social support will show greater amounts of positive adjustment after a disaster. This hypothesis was partially supported in both samples. For children exposed to Hurricane Katrina, those who reported higher levels of classmate/peer, and teacher support also reported higher levels of personal adjustment. For oil spill exposed children, the use of destructive coping strategies resulted in lower levels of positive adjustment. Social support provided from parents and peers both emerged as significant predictors of positive adjustment in this sample. Determining the degree to which variables such as social support and coping predict positive adjustment allows for the identification of risk and protective factors in children exposed to natural or man-made disasters. The results of this study will also provide useful information to professionals working with trauma-exposed children.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Copeland, Amy



Included in

Psychology Commons