Trauma and Parenting: Considering Humanitarian Crisis Contexts

  • Vanessa E. CobhamEmail author
  • Elizabeth A. Newnham


This chapter uses a risk and resilience framework to examine three humanitarian crisis contexts (natural disasters, war exposure, and forced displacement) that represent potentially traumatic events in the lives of children around the world. For each context, the existing research relating to: adverse child mental health outcomes; risk and protective factors (at the level of the individual child/youth, parent/family, and community); and parenting interventions is reviewed. Although parenting interventions are frequently recommended for families in each of the three settings, very little empirical research has been conducted to date.

Across the three humanitarian crisis contexts, common risk factors for adverse child outcomes include exposure to trauma for children and parents, parental mental health, changes in parenting behaviors, hardships and financial stress, domestic and community violence, and a lack of accessible services. Equally important, common protective factors include stable supportive parental relationships, strong family connectedness, and sustainable resources available to support families.

The importance of parents—in terms of both risk and resilience—is clear. Few culturally appropriate and sustainable parenting interventions exist, with even less published research evaluating these interventions. Strengthening families is an empirically supported means of buffering or protecting children from exposure to disaster, conflict, and forced displacement; and must be the focus of future endeavors.


Child trauma Disaster War Forced displacement Parenting 



The Parenting and Family Support Centre is partly funded by royalties stemming from published resources of the Triple P—Positive Parenting Program, which is developed and owned by the University of Queensland. Royalties from the program are also distributed to the Faculty of Health and Behavioral Sciences at UQ and contributory authors of Triple P programs. Triple P International (TPI) Pty Ltd. is a private company licensed by UniQuest Pty Ltd., a commercialization company of UQ, to publish and disseminate Triple P worldwide. The authors of this chapter have no share or ownership of TPI. TPI has no involvement in the writing of this chapter. Dr. Cobham is an employee at UQ.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.School of Psychology and Speech PathologyCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia
  3. 3.FXB Center for Health and Human RightsHarvard UniversityBostonUSA

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