Researchers of the Vrije Universiteit (VU Amsterdam) and the University of Groningen (RUG) have published a report saying that children who have lived in the Netherlands for a long time but are (in fear of) being deported suffer severe damage to their emotional, social and physical development.
The report has been endorsed by a large coalition of professors in neuropsychology, developmental psychology, psychology, psychiatry, orthopedagogy and other related fields. In the summer of 2018, the case of Howick and Lili, two Armenian children who were threatened with deportation after they had lived in the Netherlands for ten years, drew attention to the plight of some 400 other children who have been in the Netherlands for over five years but are awaiting deportation.
“’We hope that this ‘damage memo‘ will help the people concerned to form an academically sound decision about these children”, says Erik Scherder, Professor of Clynicial Neuropsychology at VU Amsterdam and one of the instigators of the report. “The chronic stress that these children suffer after having put down firm roots can have serious consequences for the development of their brain. This in itself makes it even more difficult for them to adjust to new surroundings after deportation.”
Scherder worked on the report with Dr Elianne Zijlstra and Dr Carla van Os of the University of Groningen’s Research and Expertise Centre for Children and Immigration Law. Together they conclude that the constant stress and lack of stability suffered by children under threat of deportation makes them extremely vulnerable.
“The years that the children spend worrying about enforced deportation can cause serious damage to their development”, says Elianne Zijlstra “It has huge implications for the way they function, both now and in the future. Current scientific evidence shows that deporting children who have been in the Netherlands for several years is irresponsible to say the least.”
The trio’s report has been endorsed by over 35 professors of neuropsychology, developmental psychology, psychology, psychiatry, orthopedagogy and other related fields. Also, the professional organizations for psychologists and special education experts have called for the results to be used when making decisions about these children.
Source: University of Groningen