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Involving Adolescents in Building Community Resilience for Disasters

[ Vol. 7 , Issue. 4 ]


Betty Pfefferbaum*, Richard L. Van Horn and Rose L. Pfefferbaum   Pages 253 - 265 ( 13 )


Background: The federal approach to disaster management in the United States encourages public participation to build resilient communities. Many children are affected by disasters and they now are recognized as potential participants in disaster management activities.

Objective: The objective of this paper is to present a theoretical rationale and approach for involving youth in enhancing community resilience for disasters.

Methods: This paper is based on a review of the literature on a range of topics including disaster management, personal and community resilience, adolescent development, and youth programming. A framework for community resilience intervention and youth involvement is presented.

Results: Public participation in building community resilience is essential to build trust, ensure that activities address local needs and reflect community values, instill a sense of ownership, and improve the likelihood that activities are successfully implemented. Youth represent a major constituent in any community. This review affirms that they possess the knowledge, skills, initiative, and ability to make meaningful contributions to their communities. Youth also benefit developmentally from participation in community enhancement processes. A recommended framework for formal intervention to enhance community resilience relies on a team problem-solving approach that builds on assessment, goals, and action planning.

Conclusion: As major constituents in their communities, youth should be engaged in community enhancement processes. Not only do youth and their communities benefit from the consequences of improved community resilience, youth benefit developmentally from participation in intervention processes. Communities have both a reason and a responsibility to involve them.


Adolescents, community, community resilience, disaster, disaster management, youth, youth programming.


University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, Phoenix Community College, Phoenix, Arizona

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