Study shows Katrina kids more likely to have behavior problems

By Keitha Nelson - bio | email

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Less than a week away from the fifth anniversary of one of Louisiana's worst natural disasters, a new national study shows the children of Hurricane Katrina, those who lived in emergency trailer parks or hotels for long periods of time, are more likely to have serious emotional problems.

Researcher Irwin Redlener says at least 20,000 of those children still have serious emotional or behavior problems.

Sandra Goodman lived in a trailer home at Renaissance Village Mobile Home Park for two years with a half-dozen other people. She says even though a lot has changed since her time in the trailer park, many things have remained the same.

"It's still hard for me," said Goodman. "I was upset because we had to live like that."

The grandmother of nine remembers how difficult it was for her grandchildren with no privacy, no stability and no space.

"Those are the kinds of things that interfere with instruction," said Pat Friedrich with the East Baton Rouge School System.

She says the district has a ten week program in place that reaches out to middle and high school students who have been displaced. The program helps kids learn how to cope.

"The storm caused those students to experience loss," said Friedrich. "They experienced relocation, loss of friends and loss of what was known to them and what was comfortable for them."

Friedrich says that kind of trauma can cause children to act out. He says they see an increase in absentees and poor attention spans.

"They kept a lot of things bunched up on the inside," said Goodman.

She says her grandchildren are doing okay in school, but she's still worried about what effects the storm could have on them in the future.

Friedrich says the school system is looking into implementing a similar program for elementary school kids.

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