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Child-Centred Methodology: A Means to Understanding Psychosocial Neglect and Harm in Cases of Migration: A Caribbean Context

By Adele Jones


This paper is based on the application of child-centered methodology in a study of the experiences of children in Trinidad and Tobago whose parents migrated. Child-centered research methodology is research that: • Utilises methods that are easy for children to understand and meaningfully participate in • Acknowledges that children’s insights are important in generating knowledge • Recognises the importance of children’s rights of expression (Article 12, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child) • Represents a shift away from the objectification of children and regards them as active subjects within the research process • Utilizes research findings to address children’s voicelessness Method: Child-centered methods were applied in a study of 146 children aged 13- 16 years. Purposive sampling with children presenting with indicators of depression resulted in 24 of these children taking part in an in-depth study of their perspectives on the meaning of their experiences. Results: Children separated from parents because of migration were more than twice as likely as other children to suffer psychosocial neglect and faced increased risk of exposure to harm. One-third had serious levels of depression or interpersonal difficulties affecting schooling and leading, in some cases, to suicidal ideation. Differences were found in relation to gender and ethnicity. Resiliency factors included school performance and belief in family reunification. Surrogate care arrangements provided for children’s material needs, but did not address children’s emotional problems. Conclusion: While the findings of this study are important, the focus of this paper is the application of child-centered methodologies in migration studies as a tool both for generating deeper understandings of children’s perspectives and for their empowerment in cultural contexts in which children are still expected to “be seen and not heard.

Topics: HQ, HN, JV
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