As with many countries around the world, the United Kingdom sometimes battles with conflicts between its desire to welcome asylum seekers and its need to control the national population. As a result, not all of those who enter the country are granted continual access, and in some cases officials are forced to collect unwilling residents for deportation or other measures. When such residents are taken by border officials to detention centers while their individual cases are investigated, children are often involved, and a recent outcry from doctors tending to these children and their families has suggested that such events are especially traumatic and may have long-term adverse effects on mental health.
The call, sponsored by the Royal Colleges of Paediatrics Child Health and the UK Faculty of Public Health, notes that officials often enter homes early in the morning, and such incidents may involve harsh tactics, yelling, and emotional distress displayed by parents themselves–all of which can add up to be highly alarming for children. Time spent in designated detention centers, which often resemble prisons with barbed wire and high fences, may further place a burden on children with no control over the situation, and repeated collections and releases can compound the issue. In some cases, the doctors suggest, the process of being collected and detained may remind children and their families of negative experiences in their home countries that led to their initial desire to seek asylum.
Though it is unclear how immigration officials might implement less traumatizing programs, the resounding demands for a critical look at the state of detention centers and detainment protocol are bound to result in a revisiting of current methodologies. It is hoped that measures will be made to improve the well-being of children unwittingly placed in unfortunate immigration situations.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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