Analysing Children’s Natural Hazard Risk Perception and Preparedness using a Modified PRISM Approach

  • Ayse Yildiz

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Natural disaster trends are increasing all around the world over recent decades, and a large proportion of the affected population in an emergency event are children. In recent years, there has been increased research into disaster risk reduction, aiming to raise awareness and reduce the impacts of future natural hazards. However, there is limited literature on children’s risk perception and their preparedness for natural hazards, as well as how their perception of natural
hazards and preparedness develop over time. The main aim of this dissertation is to understand children’s risk perception, their preparedness for natural hazards (earthquake, flood, landslide, storm, and wildfire). The specific research questions that this study seeks to answer are as follows: (1) What are the factors shaping children’s risk perception and their preparedness? (2) What is the relationship between children’s risk perception and their preparedness? (3) How does disaster education affect children’s risk perception and their preparedness change over
This research applies a mixed methodology to maximise the strengths of quantitative and qualitative methods, which in turn increases the validity of the results and adds multi-level perspectives to the research questions. The research also uses the technique of Pictorial Representation of Self Measure (PRISM). PRISM is a relatively new and simple visual method of assessing the perception of risk and the importance of preparedness. Eleven schools from Turkey and eight schools from Nepal agreed to take part in this survey, representing a range of
demographic backgrounds from different locations, all in high natural disaster risk regions.
This research shows that children have great potential for assisting in the development of disaster management and creating disaster-resilient communities. Children engage with knowledge about hazards and risks by informal means in their everyday life. To enhance their participation in community’s disaster risk reduction, this knowledge must be accompanied by
disaster education programmes. The main findings of this research showed that children's risk perceptions were in line with their country-specific objective risks and reflected the objective risks of their living environments. Country status and socioeconomic status had a significant effect on risk perception and the importance of preparedness in most cases. Children in both countries showed similar trends in their knowledge of the correct actions for disaster preparedness. However, there is still room to enhance children’s knowledge in terms of safety
behaviours as there was a high volume of wrong protective actions selected by children.
This study is important given the limited state of research on children’s perception of natural hazards and preparedness. An important next step would be findings that can be applied to disaster risk communication. A priority recommendation of this dissertation is to carry out more research into children’s risk perceptions and preparedness. Although child-centred disaster management studies have increased in recent years, there remains a need for more research to provide insights into why and how children respond to hazardous events. The
frequency of natural hazards is likely to increase in most countries because of increasing urbanisation, along with global warming and associated climate change. Thus, more research is needed, especially via longitudinal studies, e.g., disaster preparedness publicity campaigns, the inclusion of disaster topics in science and/or geography curriculum of schools, including school-hosted events for building local maps of hazardous terrain or vulnerable features. Further research is also needed into the relationship between the socioeconomic status of
children and their perception of earthquake risks.
Date of Award29 Jan 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorRichard Teeuw (Supervisor)

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