Four in five Christchurch primary schoolers exhibit PTSD symptoms, study finds

30 August 2017

Children who started school in the years after the Canterbury earthquakes were "neurologically different" – and a city-wide focus on resilience has only deepened the crisis, researchers Kathleen Liberty and Maureen Allan found.

  • Kathleen Liberty

    Associate Professor Kathleen Liberty and Maureen Allan

The 300 children in the study were five times more likely to exhibit symptoms of PTSD than other Kiwi children. Eighty per cent had at least one symptom and a third exhibited at least six of 12 symptoms. About a third had eight or more behavioural problems. 

Strategies to address the problem suggested by Liberty and Allan have achieved a 27 per cent decrease in behavioural issues since February 2016, sparking "an explosion of interest" in their five-year project, the pair said. Since May, 11 schools and kindergartens had signed up for a duplicate study.

University of Canterbury associate professor Liberty and Resource Teacher Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) manager Allan teamed up for the study after noticing differences in 2012's new entrants.

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