Review of child maltreatment in immigrant and refugee families

Annie LeBrun, Ghayda Hassan, Mylène Boivin, Sarah-Louise Fraser, Sarah Dufour, Chantal Lavergne

Abstract


OBJECTIVES: Study results on child maltreatment based on general population samples cannot be extrapolated with confidence to vulnerable immigrant or refugee families because of the specific characteristics and needs of these families. The aims of this paper are 1) to conduct an evidence review of the prevalence, risk factors and protective factors for child maltreatment in immigrant and refugee populations, and 2) to integrate the evidence in an analytical ecosystemic framework that would guide future research.

METHODS: We used a 14-step process based on guidelines from Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses and the Canadian Collaboration for Immigrant and Refugee Health. We searched major databases from “the oldest date available to July 2014”. The eligibility criteria for paper selection included qualitative or quantitative methodologies; papers written in English or French; papers that describe, assess or review prevalence, risk and protection factors for child maltreatment; and a studied population of immigrants or refugees.

SYNTHESIS: Twenty-four articles met the criteria for eligibility. The results do not provide evidence that immigrant or refugee children are at higher risk of child maltreatment. However, recently settled immigrants and refugees experience specific risk factors related to their immigration status and to the challenges of settlement in a new country, which may result in high risk of maltreatment.

CONCLUSION: Future research must incorporate more immigrant and refugee samples as well as examine, within an ecosystemic framework, the interaction between migratory and cultural factors with regard to the prevalence, consequences and treatment of child maltreatment for the targeted groups.


Keywords


Review; child maltreatment; immigrants; refugees; risk factors; ecosystemic model

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17269/cjph.106.4838