Well-Being of Asylum-Seeking and Refugee Children

  • Charles Watters
Reference work entry


Many millions of children around the world have been displaced from their homes as a consequence of war or natural disaster. They find themselves having to seek sanctuary in neighboring or distant lands or in different locations within their own countries. The reasons for their displacement are likely to include concerns about their personal safety and may involve bearing witness to violence towards themselves, their families, and communities. In seeking sanctuary, many children undergo hazardous journeys perhaps with parents or relatives but often alone or with groups of friends or acquaintances. When they arrive in countries or locations that are far away from the conflicts or catastrophes they have escaped from, they may feel their ordeal is over. However, these children often face suspicion and have to endure adverse physical and emotional conditions.

All of these aspects challenge the well-being of asylum-seeking and refugee children. In this chapter, the overall global context of asylum-seeking and refugee children is examined. Specific attention is directed towards the challenges children face in countries of reception where a ubiquitous “culture of mistrust” may be present. This mistrust may result in authorities denying the legitimacy of children’s claims for asylum and, in so doing, close the possibility of children receiving the care and support they need. For those receiving care, this is likely to emphasize children’s mental health and, in particular, the impact of trauma on children’s well-being. In concluding, it is argued that more emphasis should be placed on children’s own perceptions of well-being and towards examining refugee children’s well-being in the context of a dynamic interaction between social and political externalities and children’s own individual and collective responses.


Host Country Asylum Seeker Migrant Child Host Society Refugee Status 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Childhood StudiesRutgers, The State University of New JerseyCamdenUSA

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