This study explored pathways through which hurricane-related stressors affected the psychological functioning of elementary school aged children who survived Hurricane Katrina. Participants included 184 mothers from the New Orleans area who completed assessments one year pre-disaster (Time 1), and one and three years post-disaster (Time 2 and Time 3, respectively). Mothers rated their children's behavior problems at Time 3 only (n= 251 children; 53.0% male; mean age: 10.19. years, SD= 1.68 years). A path analytic model indicated that hurricane-related stressors were associated with increased maternal psychological distress and school mobility in the first post-disaster year, which were associated with higher child internalizing and externalizing symptoms three years post-disaster. Mediation analysis indicated that hurricane-related stressors were associated with child symptoms indirectly, through their impact on maternal psychological distress. Findings underscore the importance of interventions that boost maternal and child mental health and support children through post-disaster school transitions.
- Child behavior problems
- Elementary school students
- Low-income families
- Maternal psychological distress
- Natural disasters