Abuses, resilience, behavioural problems and post-traumatic stress symptoms among unaccompanied migrant minors: an Italian cross-sectional exploratory study

Author(s): Claudio LONGOBARDI ; Tommaso Gabriele VERONESI ; Laura Elvira PRINO

dx.doi.org/10.15557/PiPK.2017.0009

Abstract

The aims of this study were to explore the type and prevalence of pre-/peri-migratory trauma experiences in unaccompanied minors and the prevalence of mental health problems and resilience. The study included 19 unaccompanied migrant minors aged 16–17 years coming from Egypt, Albania, Senegal, Bangladesh, Gambia, Morocco and Mali. The participants completed self-report questionnaires on emotional and behavioural problems, post-traumatic stress symptoms, abuse and resilience. All the unaccompanied migrant minors in our study were physically and psychologically abused at least once in their life and more than half were sexually abused before or during their migration. The most frequent abuses were: being hit with an object, being punished at school and at home with torture and infliction of pain, being forced to do something dangerous, being insulted, undergoing theft or damage of personal objects, being forced to look at sexual photos or videos and being sexually abused. The scores on post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety and dissociation are above the clinical cut-off point. Mean scores in the scales of resilience are generally in line with normative data. These scores show that despite their traumatic pre-migratory and peri-migratory experiences of abuse and the clinical psychopathological effects, the minors interviewed proved to have good sources of resilience. Immigration policies however should be based not only on admittance to emergency refuge centres but also on assessing the subjects and providing them with psychological support for the traumas experienced in order to achieve a successful integration process in the host society.

Keywords

Unaccompanied migrant minors, behavioural problem, post-traumatic stress, violence, abuse, resilience

Tags: Italy, Egypt, Albania, Senegal, Bangladesh, Gambia, Morocco, Mali, Unaccompanied minors, Children, Adolescents, Youth, Child maltreatment, Violence, Torture, Sexual violence, Traumatic life events, Resilience, Prevalence, Behavior disorders

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