"Home alone" scenario for children during a disaster less likely in Italy
The majority of practitioners felt that the vulnerable group of children left at home identified during the Citizen Summits did not apply to Italy, as, in their opinion, “Italian families don’t leave children home alone” (G3; R - see source document for full reference), “we have grandparents or social services” (G3; R), “in Italy we usually do not abandon children to themselves” (G5; R3). However, practitioners did identify that different cultural (e.g. children of drug users) and national groups may hold different beliefs regarding children being left at home alone, and that this may create vulnerability for these children: “they might be perhaps children of drug users” (G5; R8). “I know for sure that in Romania – I saw it with my eyes – some kids go around with a key at their neck. This because when kids are back from school and their parents are out to work they can go in their homes and they are completely alone. […] Even Chinese people often leave their kids alone at home” (G6; R6) “Only some ethnicities, though, because other ethnicities… it comes to my mind another group with which I am in contact, the Senegalese group, where they have some “diffuse kindergartens”, meaning that a family put at disposal their home and in any case there are people who take care of the children” (G6; R5) A few practitioners also felt that all children should be considered as vulnerable during disaster situations, not just those who have been left at home by their parents or caregivers and that in turn concern for children during disasters can cause further reactions in others: “I don’t understand why children are considered only if home alone. Having children around during an emergency, deeply affects the reaction to it” (G1; R), “We sometimes have parents calling us in panic because they are locked out with kids inside. And even if the house is safe, they are terrified” (G1; R5), “I think of parents, in general. They are very vulnerable as a group, if they have children in school. They risk going crazy” (G2; R5).
Disaster Phases: Response
- Develop guidelines for disaster practitioners that take into consideration the different needs of and approaches to different ethnical groups
- Use trustworthy, widespread, multi-lingual, culturally appropriate and inclusive means of alerting the target population in case of disasters
- Inform citizens about the risk they may face and about possible actions and measures, they can take to reduce vulnerability and better prepare themselves
- Consider vulnerable groups when designing and implementing disaster response measures
- Use cultural factors to improve the effectiveness of disaster communication