Unaccompanied Migrant Minors: Conceptualizations of Childhood, Child Rights and Well-Being

Wednesday, 18 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Roberta DI ROSA, University of Palermo, Italy
Ravinder BARN, Royal Holloway University of London, United Kingdom
The importance of protecting children is broadly recognised in mainstream public policy. However, in dealing with the protection needs of unaccompanied migrant minors, governments face the challenge of how to comply with their international and humanitarian obligations at a time when their overall concerns have shifted towards tougher immigration policies and stricter border control to curb unauthorised immigration (Drammeh, 2010; UKBA 2010). By drawing upon a qualitative study, this paper explores unaccompanied migrant minors' conceptualizations of the notions of childhood, child rights, child well-being and risk. A total of 15 unaccompanied migrant minors in Sicily contributed to rich insights. A thematic analysis sheds light on key findings to identify the tensions which exist between international law and the protection of vulnerable migrant minors and immigration control and governmentality. Young people’s narratives also attest to child agency and competence, within a framework of risk and vulnerability, and the contested nature of the notion of childhood.