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"How Can They Look So Happy?" Reconstructing the Place of Children After Hurricane Katrina: Images and Reflections
Van Vliet, W.
Year Published: 2005
University of Colorado
Children, Youth and Environments, Volume 15(2):378-391, 2005
University of Colorado at Denver
The authors of this article examine the impact of Hurricane Katrina on children. Specifically, they consider media coverage of children, both during the days following the August 29, 2005, disaster, and, more closely, during the reconstruction period that followed. The authors explain that, for the most part, media coverage of children impacted by Hurricane Katrina focus on their vulnerability and their dependence upon adults. They argue that this perspective reflects a societal view of the proper place of children and youth in the United States. The authors assert that during this period of reconstruction, a new paradigm is necessary one that "recognizes the right and capacity of children in participate in matters affecting their lives." In supporting their view, the authors point to the numerous pictures (featured in the article) of children displaced by the hurricane with smiles in the midst of the chaos around them. They bring readers to consider that the aftermath of the hurricane brought more devastation for adults (nightmares, anxiety, etc.), but children demonstrated resilience and a stronger ability to function in the midst of the stressful circumstances. The authors point to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), adopted in 1989. The rights-based CRC considers children full-fledged persons, and was not ratified by the United States, which views children as "adults-to-be." The authors include photographs, notes, and references in the article.
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