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The integration of immigrant or refugee children is one of the most urgent social responsibilities in many countries. However, it is not the immigrant background as such that puts them at risk, but rather factors associated with their family’s migration trajectory, such as psychological factors (e.g. complex ...

The integration of immigrant or refugee children is one of the most urgent social responsibilities in many countries. However, it is not the immigrant background as such that puts them at risk, but rather factors associated with their family’s migration trajectory, such as psychological factors (e.g. complex experiences of loss, unresolved mourning processes, acculturation issues in immigrants, post-traumatic stress and uncertain future perspectives for refugees) or socio-economic factors (low SES, unemployment, insecure institutional status, difficulties with housing, etc.).

Giving birth to a new generation in migration or exile can at the same time accentuate risk or vulnerability and open up windows or opportunities for prevention or intervention. How can we influence developmental environments where developmental risks of these children can be moderated and strength or resilience supported?

Experts agree that adaptive development and social integration are optimized, both by early language or cognitive training, and, by support for the early parent-child relationship or for parenting practices. From longitudinal studies in attachment, we realize that children whose early attachment relationships have been put under unusual stress – for example, due to difficult experiences in the context of the immigration or exile trajectory – more often show insecure attachment types as well as learning and psycho-social difficulties. Without early support, they are more likely to show lower academic achievement, problems in self-regulation, and other developmental problems. In the context of forced migration post-traumatic stress, an ongoing developmental risk factor can influence the developmental outcome negatively. Due to the positive association between maternal posttraumatic stress and difficulties in parent-child interactions, an unfavorable environment is created, where far too many children cannot catch up with their best abilities.

In this Research Topic, we will focus on early prevention projects, aiming to create more equal developmental chances, with the scope of early preventive intervention projects for children with a background of immigration or exile. Approaches for older children/adolescents are also welcome. Topics may include, but are not limited to:
• Early prevention/intervention projects (both evidence-based existing and promising newly developed projects)
• Culture and child rearing practices, ethno-psychological aspects of child development and of supportive practices
• Inclusion of culture specific aspects in prevention programs (dealing with the psychodynamics of immigration and acculturation; with culture-specific perspectives on parenting, child development)
• Everyday racism immigrant families are confronted with vs. feeling of being welcome: ambivalences within the host society, influencing the developmental chances of children
• Neuropsychological aspects of stress and post-trauma dynamics, influencing child development
• Developmental psychology (e.g. universal vs. culture-specific aspects of development)
• Self-representations of immigrant children and identity aspects in immigrant adolescents
• Specific difficulties of different groups (e.g. unaccompanied/accompanied minors, specific migration history; children in exiled families, where one parent lives in another country)

We encourage original research articles from psychology, social and behavioral science and neuroscience, including qualitative, as well as quantitative research. We are eager to receive papers on mixed and multi-method approaches. Submissions may take the form of reports of theoretically-grounded empirical studies; reviews, meta-analyses, methodological and theoretical articles. Brief commentaries will be considered if novel and generative.

Keywords: children, prevention, early development, immigrant families, refugee families, caregiver support


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