Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Lone asylum seeking children have experienced high levels of war trauma and need better care

Lone asylum seeking children are more likely to have experienced high levels of war trauma, combat and torture than those who arrived in the country with adult carers, according to a new study looking at the mental health of asylum seeking children in the UK.

The authors of the research, which is published online this week in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, are calling on the UK government to ensure that children who arrive in the country on their own are offered appropriate support.

The study reveals that lone asylum seeking children are at much greater risk of mental health problems, such as post traumatic stress symptoms, than their accompanied peers. Such children are sent away from their families, or flee their communities, because of persecution, organised violence or war.

There are an estimated 5,500 unaccompanied asylum seeking children in the UK. According to the new research, placing such children in foster care greatly helps their mental health. In the UK, unaccompanied asylum seekers aged between 16 and 18 are often placed in bed and breakfast accommodation, receiving a lower level of support than children who come into the care system at an earlier age. Foster care and high support living arrangements can prove costly for local authorities.

The study showed that unaccompanied asylum seekers living independently had higher levels of post traumatic symptoms, such as preoccupation with the war events, flashbacks and nightmares, than those living in foster care.

Overall, more than half of the male (61%) and nearly three quarters of the female unaccompanied asylum seekers (73%) were assessed as having a high risk of post traumatic stress disorder, far more than the accompanied male and female refugee children (14% and 35% respectively).

Those who were unaccompanied had much greater personal experience of war, including combat, torture and detention, than those who were accompanied. Many more of the lone asylum seeking children in the new study (45%) had been involved in combat, compared with the accompanied children (12%). Nearly half had experienced torture of some kind (38%), whereas very few had been subjected to torture in the accompanied group (3%). In the lone group nearly one in five reported that they had been imprisoned or in detention of some kind (18%), compared with only one in twenty in the accompanied group (6%).

Dr Matthew Hodes, lead author of the new study from the Division of Neurosciences and Mental Health at Imperial College London, said: “Ours is the first study from the UK to directly investigate the war trauma that unaccompanied asylum seeking children have experienced and see how this relates to their psychological state. It shows that there is a close relationship between the levels of distress that these children experience and their living arrangements.

“These children often arrive in the UK after experiencing terrible things in their home country, and we would like to see foster care or special children’s homes offered to them in order to reduce their suffering. Living with a foster family reduces a child’s sense of isolation, provides them with someone who can care for them, and helps them to integrate with other children and adults. All of these factors can help lower their post traumatic stress symptoms and other studies show that many of the children much prefer this kind of care,” added Dr Hodes.

The study compared the experiences of 78 unaccompanied asylum seeking children aged 18 and under, predominantly from the Balkans and Horn of Africa, who were supported by the City of Westminster local authority in London, with 35 accompanied refugee children living with family members. The children were interviewed about their experiences prior to reaching the UK and their current living arrangements, and completed questionnaires designed to reveal the state of their mental health, including post traumatic and depression symptoms.

The study was supported by the Department of Social Services, City of Westminster; the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund; and Action for Children in Conflict.

Laura Gallagher | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht New population data provide insight on aging, migration
31.08.2016 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht PRB projects world population rising 33 percent by 2050 to nearly 10 billion
25.08.2016 | Population Reference Bureau

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>