Resilience of children in disasters: A multisystem perspective

Ann S. Masten
Published Online:
16 Dec 2020
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 56 Issue 1

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Interest in resilience is surging in research, policy and practice as threats from disasters rise and humanity confronts a global pandemic. This commentary highlights the importance of defining resilience for portability across system levels and disciplines in order to integrate knowledge and prepare adequately for the challenges posed to children and youth by multisystem disasters. A scalable definition of resilience is recommended: The capacity of a dynamic system to adapt successfully to challenges that threaten the function, survival or development of the system. Major determinants of adaptation among young people in the context of disaster are highlighted, including variations in adversity exposure dose, developmental timing, individual differences and the socio‐ecological systems of children's lives that can be mobilised in response. Adaptation of children in disasters depends on the resilience of interconnected systems, including families, schools, communities and policy sectors. Implications of a multisystem perspective for disaster risk reduction and preparedness are discussed with a focus on nurturing the resilience of children and their societies for challenges in the near term and long into the future.

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