Risk and resilience in refugee children
McEwen, Ellen Patricia
Resilience is a phenomenon that results from strong and well-protected adaptation systems. It is not a one-dimensional quality that either one has or does not have but is instead the possession of many skills and resources at different times and to varying degrees. The purpose of this study was to investigate the perceptions of three resilient refugee children regarding what they felt contributed to their positive adaptation after facing adversity. This study examined how the participants understood the variables inherent in parenting and the new social milieu (e.g. friends, the mosque or church, community agencies supporting refugees, school and community involvement, involvement in sport) promoted their resilience. Three nine to twelve year old refugee children identified as resilient by their teachers were each interviewed three times at their school. Data analysis consisted of developing qualitative themes and patterns from the interviews. These themes and patterns were categorized using the constant comparative method.This study supports and extends the existing understanding of the factors that contribute to resilience in school-age children. The children in this study perceived their families, their friends, and their teachers as protective factors in their positive adjustment following adversity. The vital role of the community coordinator in their school as a person who could facilitate their involvement in school and community events became evident. In addition, this study highlights the role of sport as a contributing factor to resilience. Involvement in sports appears to serve as a buffer against the vulnerabilities of resettlement in a new country for some refugee children. Further research on the importance of sport for children with refugee status would be beneficial for expanding our understanding of resilience, and would have implications for school and community programming.As Canadian society becomes increasingly diverse, the need to discover the processes contributing to resilience in individuals with a wide range of cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds takes on greater importance. It is hoped that discovering the factors that help refugee children to develop resilience will create a deeper understanding of the processes involved for other children.
DegreeMaster of Education (M.Ed.)
DepartmentEducational Psychology and Special Education
ProgramEducational Psychology and Special Education