UK Doctors Call for an End to Child Immigrant Detention

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 John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Brian


    December 12th, 2009 at 3:18 AM

    Although legal matters and procedures do need to be adhered to, it is important not to forget ethics and values… I do believe that the children should not be subjected to detention and can be sent back in a much better way, so as not to mentally disturb them.

  • clement


    December 13th, 2009 at 4:45 AM

    I agree than humane behavior is extremely important, but it is not more important than ensuring that our respective countries are safe enough for the millions of us in them!

  • Madison


    December 13th, 2009 at 11:45 AM

    Putting children in prison all for the effort of controlling the national population is so ridiculous!

  • Damien W

    Damien W

    December 14th, 2009 at 10:27 AM

    Well I think the best way to go about this problem is to find a middle path… so that we can ensure the safety of the general population as well as not commit ethical mistakes.

    I would suggest the detained children be put in foster care until the deportation happens. Now these foster care centers need to be of the highest quality and should not lack in any manner when compared with a regular foster care facility.



    December 14th, 2009 at 10:44 AM

    I’m pretty sure it takes a heavy toll mentally on a kid to see his family detained and deported out of their new home, new country. Maybe they can focus and reduce the punishment and give a couple of months to such families to move out voluntarily…?

  • ricky AB.

    ricky AB.

    December 14th, 2009 at 4:10 PM

    It is nice to see that a group of professions is working towards bringing a change that is humanitarian…it is only right if the plea is heard and changes are brought in to curb the problem.

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