Chilean Children 7 Years After the 2010 Earthquake and Tsunami

  • Marcelo Leiva-BianchiEmail author
  • Andrea Araneda
  • Andrés Fresno
  • Rosario Spencer
Part of the Integrating Psychiatry and Primary Care book series (IPPC)


This chapter analyzes healthy and dysfunctional responses, as well as the risk and protective factors for children exposed to earthquakes/tsunamis. It also reviews the scientific literature of Chile, one of the countries most exposed to these disasters, related to the “F-27,” an earthquake/tsunami that occurred on February 27, 2010. This was the most devastating disaster in Chile’s history. While 22 different studies indicate that children responded mainly in healthy ways—learning new ways of addressing a problem, growing spiritually, showing increased compassion, and learning from the disaster—they also presented several dysfunctional responses. They avoided talking about the disaster, were concerned that another earthquake/tsunami may occur, were afraid of being alone or far from their parents, experienced trouble sleeping, and had a decrease in their academic performance. The protective factors that seemed to account for the difference between positive and negative outcomes included protective parents or adults, evidence-based interventions for children and adults that were supported by the state, and a culture where affected persons feel valued. Similarly, there were risk factors that made the children more susceptible to psychiatric symptoms and potential negative outcomes. These factors included the child living in a high-risk area or suffering a loss of any kind, experiencing the deterioration of family relationships, lacking a qualified adviser, being exposed to images of the disaster, or being subjected to non-coordinated and/or non-evidence-based interventions. We conclude that public policies designed to respond to future disasters must take into account psychosocial impact models that match individual children to responses that are specifically tailored to their level of exposure-protection. This chapter’s key points are illustrated using the case of María, which is based on real-life testimonies.


Children Mental health Psychosocial impact Posttraumatic growth Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Exposure factors Tsunami Disasters Earthquakes 



To the FONDECYT projects No. 1160301 and No. 1140391.

Conflicts of Interest Statement: The authors state that they are independent from the financing and support institutions and that no interests or values different from those usually used in the research have affected the execution of the work or the composition of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcelo Leiva-Bianchi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andrea Araneda
    • 1
  • Andrés Fresno
    • 1
  • Rosario Spencer
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of PsychologyUniversidad de TalcaTalcaChile

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