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Samedi 11 Juillet 2020

Should contact between the minor and individual family members be encouraged?

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Forum OIJJ

08/04/2014 - 09:47

Should contact between the minor and individual family members be encouraged?


It is often extremely difficult to evaluate aprioristically the impact of family tracing on the children lives. That is why particular attention must be devoted to the process, and not only to its outcomes. In particular, this explains why associations often require the consent of the child before starting research.
At the same time, practitioners have noticed that, when interviewing the child to better understand his/her position towards the possibility of being in contact with family members, exploring the reasons for such research is extremely delicate. It will, in fact, bring back painful and traumatic memories of a separation that the child might have blocked. Therefore, for contacts with the family to represent a positive stage in the youths’ journey, it is essential to calibrate the process on the specific case, and to work on a relationship of trust and support with the child.

The first obstacles to regular and open contacts between the families and the children derive from the reluctance of the unaccompanied minors to relate information regarding their family ties. Children fear they will be easily sent back once their families are found. The result is that both the family and the child are isolated from each other, a situation that bears negative consequences for both, and needs to be better addressed.

It is complicated to provide a clear-cut answer to this question, because it depends on a careful evaluation of the best interest of the child, which must be conducted on a case-to-case basis. In some circumstances, in fact, youths have fled their countries because of dysfunctional family dynamics or, from a more legal point of view, declaring and pursuing contacts with the family can compromise the positive outcome of the asylum request. Nonetheless unofficial studies show that youths are often in contact with their family thanks to the new media, and then psychological support is necessary to process the emotional impact of such communication. Moreover, in general, establishing a contact with the family, also on the EU territory, helps the children to be more positive and relieved from the worries they have regarding the destiny of their families.

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