Children's Flood Risk Perception: From Fairy Tale to Reality

Authors: Fausto Marincioni*, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, Maria Teresa Carone, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Department of Life and Environmental Sciences.
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Environmental Perception, Europe
Keywords: Italy, flood risk perception, Europe, LIFE PRIMES Research Project, children, fairy tale.
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Napoleon B3, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Investing to increase environmental awareness in younger ages, will very likely lead to more conscious adults. The perspectives of children regarding nature and the environment are really different from those of adults, however few studies approached children’s behavior during flood disasters. In this study we analyze flood risk perception of children age 6 to 14 years old, in three different Italian regions characterized by diverse typologies of flood phenomena. Data collection about possible behaviors in case of flood emergency was carried out using questionnaires employing metaphorical fairy tale, which allowed, through the identification with the protagonist, to obtain reliable and spontaneous answers from the young respondents. The studied communities were the pilot areas of the LIFE European research project: preventing floods by making resilient communities (PRIMES). Findings highlighted various behavior, including, of course, relying on nearby adults. However, when facing a natural phenomenon perceived dangerous, younger children react by following an escape or hiding behavior. These kids thought that the best behavior to protect themselves from a flood was to “run outside.”As they grow up they formulate a reasoning based on the specific characteristics of the phenomenon and act accordingly. The safe behavior: “Reach high places” to protect oneself from flood became more prominent from the younger to the older ages. Not all studied communities showed a good correlation between those two behaviors and age. Educational activities about flood phenomena specifically tailored to children are crucial to help them increase their environmental awareness and develop proper protective behavior.

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