Separated Young People Seeking Asylum and their Experiences of Undergoing and Age Assessment in the UK

Prof Doc Thesis

Eberhardt, J. 2018. Separated Young People Seeking Asylum and their Experiences of Undergoing and Age Assessment in the UK. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsEberhardt, J.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

A growing body of research and rise in public awareness highlight multiple risks to separated children who seek asylum in the UK. Concerns usually revolve around their past trauma experiences, which are deemed to increase vulnerability. More recently post-migration stresses have been highlighted to negatively impact on wellbeing. Concerns about how to protect separated young people from further trauma within hostile asylum processes have been raised. Legal and healthcare professionals in particular have expressed concerns about the process of age assessments and their impact on young people trying to settle in the UK. This study aimed to qualitatively explore separated young people’s experiences of undergoing an age assessment. Participant perspectives on the age assessment processes, outcomes and impacts on their lives were sought. Findings are presented from interviews with seven male young people who experienced age assessments when they first arrived in the UK. Qualitative findings based on Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis revealed three broad themes; ‘Confusion’, ‘Power’ and ‘Consequences’. Participants’ experiences of ‘confusion’ was influenced by unfamiliarity of language and customs, but also by a lack of transparency and communication about the age assessment process. Misunderstandings and cultural differences in the conception of age further confused and unsettled the young people. Mutual misunderstandings between the assessors and young people, confusion and lack of power over the process led to the participants feeling categorically disbelieved, judged, dehumanised and interrogated. Participants’ accounts offered an insight into the wide-reaching consequences on young people’s psychosocial wellbeing, their development and relationships with their past, present and future. Attention was paid to multiple layers of contexts involved in the age assessment process. Participants’ experiences and their perspectives are utilised to outline implications for future research and practice.

KeywordsSeparated Young People; Post-migration stress; Age Assessments; Age determination
PublisherUniversity of East London
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Publication dates
PrintMay 2018
Publication process dates
Deposited19 Nov 2019
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License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
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