Psychopathological risks in children with migrant parents

Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences 2 (1):15-23 (2009)
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In Western societies many immigrants live in difficult social and working conditions. Together with other factors, this state of affairs represents a risk for the well being of their children. This article will consider the principle risk factors for child psychopathology and/or distress, with a distinction between temporary and permanent factors and with a peculiar attention to the interplay between risk and protective factors. Risk factors can be ordered in cultural, social, familiar/parental and individual factors. Some of these are general risk factors, applying to child and adolescent psychopathology and distress independently from the status of immigrants’ offspring. Other factors are specific of migration, some of them being related to: a) different ways of immigrated families to situate themselves within the host society ; b) cultural/familiar attitudes in child’s nurture and education; c) the family role of women as well as factors specific of the pregnancy period in immigrants; d) the ability of the school system to enhance and support children’s abilities to integrate within the new society; e) the political/bureaucratic facilitation/impediment to the regularization of VISA, with the consequent effect on the sense of identity/rejection within/from the host society. In conclusion, the programs for monitoring immigrants’ living and health conditions should also include: the assessment of parental skills, the dynamic indicators of risk and protection indexes, the assessment of living conditions and social school environment, with a careful attention to those early signs of discomfort that might precede possible later onset of psychopathology and/or social distress.


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