Children seeking safety in UK face damaging culture of doubt

Published on Friday, 21 September 2012 09:32
Written by Scott Buckler

Children seeking safety in the UK on their own are subjected to a culture of disbelief and suspicion, which leaves them feeling frightened and confused, our new report reveals

Into the Unknown: Children's journeys through the asylum process found that, despite some recent improvements, many of the UK Border Agency's (UKBA) practices fail to take the needs of children fleeing war, turmoil and violence into account.

The report highlights the Agency's failure to make sure that children understand what is happening to them in the asylum process. The absence of child-friendly information, a wide-spread culture of disbelief and disputes over their age are central to increasing young people's confusion and sense of insecurity.

This causes already traumatised children greater anxiety, with immediate and potentially long-term consequences for their well-being. Worryingly, there are no systems in place for the UKBA to measure the effect of the asylum system on children's well-being.

'Instead of getting the care and support they need, these children are considered with suspicion'

Many of the children The Children's Society spoke to said that in their asylum interviews, there was no 'responsible adult' to act on their behalf or explain what was happening. In some cases, their interpreter did not speak the correct dialect or language, misrepresenting what they had said. This made them feel like their refusal of protection was unjustified.

The Children's Society Chief Executive Matthew Reed said: 'The amount of confusion and anxiety expressed by the children we spoke to in the asylum process is very concerning.

'Although the UKBA has made some progress, there needs to be a fundamental shift in attitude in how they work with children fleeing danger who need our help. Instead of getting the care and support they need, these children are considered with suspicion. In some cases they feel like they are being tricked. Children need to understand what is happening to them and have some control over their situation.'

Source: ©Childrens Society

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