By: Amanda Phillips and Sarah Schafer
A refugee is someone who fears persecution while living in his or her home country, due to race, religion, nationality, or belonging to a particular social/political group, and seeks the protection of another country (Hodes, 2000). It is estimated that there is 19.2 million refugees world wide in which half of these are children (Ehntholt & Yule, 2006). Refugees have an increased risk to develop psychopathologies such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Conduct Disorder, due to traumatic exposure from war and leaving their home country (O’Shea, Hodes, Down, & Bramley, 2000). Many refugees will spend years in camps in which poor living conditions can consist of inadequate water and food supply (Lustig, Kia-Keating, Knight, Geltman, Ellis, Kinzie, & Saxe, 2004). Many of these refugees may then be sent to a foreign country not knowing the language (Kinzie, Sack, Angell, Manson, & Rath, 1986). These refugee children and adolescents are then expected to begin school at their age level, instead of their academic ability (Kinzie et al., 1986). A refugee child or adolescent may begin to feel lost between the pressures felt to perform above his or her academic abilities, combined with the burden of past memories, such as war and structural violence.