Unaccompanied refugee minors’ early life narratives of physical abuse from caregivers and teachers in their home countries

The early life narratives of 34 unaccompanied refugee minors, especially their reports of interpersonal violence, were analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA).

Abstract

The youth originated from eight countries, with Afghanistan, Eritrea, and Sri Lanka being the most frequent origins, and they arrived to Norway before the age of 15. Four of these youth were girls. The physical violence took place at home and/or at school and could be extremely harsh. Approximately half of the youth expressed some type of ambivalence toward the perpetrator. In analyzing how the youth understood the reasons for violence two categories of internal and three categories of external attributions were found. Several of the youth blamed their own behavior for the abuse, although such internal attributions were frequently combined with external attributions. Some different patterns of attributions emerged between home and school violence. Most of the youth placed the blame for school violence on their own behavior or that violence was part of normal school discipline. For violence at home there was a tendency to place more blame on the perpetrator (mostly fathers). Possible long-term consequences of the experiences and the different attributional styles as well as implications of the findings are discussed. Professionals should assess refugee children for interpersonal violence experiences as well as for other experiences in their home country.

International Journal of Child Abuse & Neglect, 2015, doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2015.08.003

Published Sep. 21, 2015 7:15 AM