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Emotional and behavioral problems in migrant children and adolescents in Europe: a systematic review


Based on findings of Stevens and Vollebergh [69], who analyzed cross-cultural topics, this review considers the current prevalence of emotional and behavioral problems of native children and adolescents in comparison with children with a migration background in European countries. 36 studies published from 2007 up to 2013 chosen from a systematic literature research were included and analyzed in their perspective design in detail. Previous studies showed great differences in their results: Especially in Germany, many studies compare the heterogeneous group of immigrant children with native children to analyze an ethnic minority or migration process effect. Only a British and Turkish study demonstrates the selection effect in migration. Most Dutch or British studies examined different ethnic groups, e.g. Turkish, Moroccan, Surinamese, Pakistani, Indian or Black migrant children and adolescents. Migrant childhood in Europe could be declared a risk in increasing internalizing problem behavior while the prevalent rate in externalizing problem behavior was comparable between native and migrant children. A migration status itself can often be postulated as a risk factor for children’s mental condition, in particular migration in first generation. Furthermore, several major influence factors in migrant children’s mental health could be pointed out, such as a low socio-economic status, a Non-European origin, an uncertain cultural identity of the parents, maternal harsh parenting or inadequate parental occupation, a minority status, the younger age, gender effects or a specific culture declaration in diseases.

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Correspondence to Esmahan Belhadj Kouider.

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Belhadj Kouider, E., Koglin, U. & Petermann, F. Emotional and behavioral problems in migrant children and adolescents in Europe: a systematic review. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 23, 373–391 (2014).

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  • Emotional and behavioral problems
  • Migration
  • Children
  • Adolescents
  • Review