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Survey of the Influence of the Great East Japan Earthquake on Child-rearing II

Regarding this survey

In addition to devastation caused by tremors and tsunami, the Great East Japan Earthquake (hereafter "earthquake") of March 11, 2011 also resulted in an accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. No doubt, conditions in the aftermath of the earthquake have been stressful for parents and children in various ways, affecting even daily life, play, and parent-child relationships.

Surveys were conducted in May 2011 and January 2012 on the condition of children since the earthquake and changes in the mother's child-raising approach and practices. The surveys targeted mothers with children, 0-6 years old who were not yet attending school, in three regions (Tohoku: North Eastern Part of Japan, the Tokyo metropolitan area, and Other than Tohoku and the metropolitan area). The results compare and analyze changes at the three different times (immediately following the earthquake, 2 months later, and 10 months later) and by region (Tohoku, the Tokyo Metropolitan Area, and Other than Tohoku and the Tokyo Metropolitan Area).

Findings from the result of the survey

Ten months after the earthquake, the survey shows that a tendency of dependence among preschoolers in the Tohoku area has increased as a result of stress due to a change in living environment, especially the reduction of time spent playing outside. This increased feeling of dependence is thought to come from separation anxiety which causes children to fear that once they are separated from someone or something very important, they might never get them back again. On the other hand, surprisingly, children who experienced the earthquake came to know a sense of gratitude and kindness toward others and to foster sympathy despite the stressful life they are living.

Mothers in the Tohoku area are raising their children while making all kinds of efforts in order to protect their child's life; taking counter-measures against radiation and collecting information about it, for example, which they did not have to do at all before the earthquake. More than half of the mothers responded that they still feel depressed, however, at the same time a relatively high percentage of them also feel happy about the fact that they can raise their children. The earthquake is thought to have made mothers in the region feel the preciousness of life much more deeply than before.

Since the mothers' depressed feelings have a direct effect on their children, improvement is urgently needed. The depression stems from concerns over radiation, delay in the reconstruction, change of the father's employment and overall domestic finance, many of which are beyond the capacity individuals can handle and need continual measures and support from society as a whole. At the same time, mothers in the region tend to feel that it is essential to create an environment that soothes stress. Providing places where mothers can speak their mind or talk about their concerns and make opportunities or events that they can enjoy should be included in this crucial support. We, as adults, have to continue to address this situation in order to realize a secure and safe society for children.

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