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Displaced Children: "Adverse Childhood Experiences Amongst Refugees from the Horn of Africa: Influences on Development, Attachment, and Risk/Resilience"

Segen Zeray


This paper addresses the trauma and adverse life experiences that displaced East-African youth are exposed to in the last of the three stages they endure: relocation. The effects of this trauma from war is observed in the disruption of secure attachments and how that filters through psycho-social/mental, developmental, and educational health. Refugee youth are often ascribed to two strict narratives, being resilient or risk/vulnerable. However, much of their resilience relies on the lack of trauma from having no violent disruption of their secure attachments. This group is referred to as unaccompanied refugee minors (URM’s). There is not much understanding of this connection between URM’s and what their resilience depends on and so that leads to many gaps and constraining assumptions about the health and development of displaced and refugee youth. The result of this research displayed the trauma experienced being reflected in high rates of PTSD, anxiety and depression among displaced youth and it is recognized that community-based treatment is the most effective intervention. This is interpreted to relate to the importance of maintaining that secure attachment and social network within their native land, throughout their journey, and most notably in resettlement. The implication of these results highlights why youth need a secure base for their attachment with their support groups in order to properly develop in all areas of their well-being and health. This matters for the global health field because the overall life trajectory for many displaced and refugee youth all across the world is negative and much of that is due to developmental and health concerns that stem from these issues. 

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