Journal of Human Rights and Social Work

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 81–88 | Cite as

Syrian Refugee Children: A Study of Strengths and Difficulties

  • Ammar Alsayed
  • Vivienne J. Wildes


This research examined the psychological status of Syrian refugee children residing in Antalya, Turkey using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). The psychological aspects explored in the SDQ are emotional symptoms, hyperactivity, conduct disorder, peer relationship problems, and prosocial behavior. We analyzed scores for Syrian refugee children between the ages of 9 and 15 years living in the city center of Antalya, Turkey. For comparison, a similar group of Turkish students completed the same questionnaire. Significant effects of psychological deficit were found for the Syrian refugee children. We conclude that Syrian refugee children in Antalya suffer from severe emotional and conduct problems compared to the Turkish children (who have heightened hyperactivity). Most startling is that both Syrian and Turkish youth in this study have the highest averages for Total Difficulties worldwide, with Syrian refugee children scoring twice as high as their United States counterparts. The results of this study strongly support the need for psychological counseling for refugee children. Additionally, access to counseling should be understood to be critical to refugees’ human right to rehabilitation.


Syrian refugee children Psychological effects Strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ) Human rights and sociology Turkey 



The authors would like to thank Mina Fazel, Associate Professor at Oxford University, whose advice and suggestions inspired us during the study. We would also like to thank the Youth in Mind group started by Robert Goodman, Professor of Brain and Behavioral Medicine at King’s College, London, for providing instruments and data on psychological health across the world.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Declaration of Interest


Ethical Standards

The authors assert that all procedures contributing to this work comply with the ethical standards of the relevant national and institutional committees.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Business SchoolUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.Department of Business AdministrationAntalya International UniversityAntalyaTurkey

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