The Quake Kids: ‘These children are biologically different’

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During the February 22, 2011, 6.3 magnitude earthquake, teachers say children “bounced on the ground like ping-pong balls” in their turtle positions on school fields and playgrounds, screaming

Now, seven years later, about 70 per cent of Christchurch children have post-traumatic stress symptoms with 20 per cent displaying several symptoms.

Ministry of Education numbers show assaults against school staff has more than doubled since 2011.

Read more: Black Tuesday six years on from school closures and mergers

They are concerning numbers and schools are under immense pressure.

Banks Avenue School principal Toni Burnside said she has not seen the level of need in schools before.

Where once a classroom may have had a child with high needs, now there are seven to eight, she said.

Canterbury University’s associate professor Kathleen Liberty said she got letters from parents describing how they argued about insurance, hid under tables during the aftershocks, fearing they were to blame for their children’s behaviour.

But as she explains, the children’s symptoms are not due to how their parents reacted during the earthquake but because they are biologically different.

So how are schools coping? Is there enough support?

This is the second video in our series on how Christchurch schools and children are faring since the February 22, 2011 earthquake. For Black Tuesday click here.




  1. This is VERY much the behaviour from the imprinting of DNA that the children of Holocaust Survivors are experiencing!
    The telemeres do tell a story, as do the adaptations of the DNA helix.
    Undergoing a traumatic and terrifying experience has now been proven to be a DNA and behavioural game changer according to AMA and Yale studies.
    Duke Uni backed this up, and so did Oxford.
    The kids need to de-compress, and maybe some Veterans can come in to the class rooms and discuss how they deal with the trauma of when they were in the military, and engaged in combat ops.