Disasters around the globe are causing untold human suffering and chronic pain, while governments, organizations and individuals rally to save lives, prevent injury and illness, and procure basic necessities. Lessons learned with each catastrophe can improve responsiveness for future events. Children, however, remain vulnerable and suffer disproportionately.

Some of the immediate damage may be unavoidable due to the unexpected onset of natural and human-influenced disasters. Yet, preparedness that encompasses anticipation, early response and support for recovery can improve the ability of children to emerge from these experiences with the capacity to grow, develop and succeed.

Recent pronouncements highlight how children lag behind adults in the prioritization of emergency preparedness. The National Commission on Children and Disasters’ October 2010 report, for example, identified continuing deficiencies in disaster preparedness for children (www.childrenanddisasters.acf.hhs.gov/). Partnering with key stakeholder organizations like the Academy, the commission has made progress in pediatric readiness. Unfortunately, the...

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