Childhood Studies Refugee and Displaced Children
Charles Watters
  • LAST REVIEWED: 12 April 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 March 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791231-0042


There is a large and disparate range of reading available on the subject of refugee and displaced children. This is reflective of the subject matter. The category “refugee and displaced children” includes children who have been granted refugee status by receiving societies, those applying for refugee status (asylum-seeking children), and those who are reasonably considered to be forced migrants but who have not yet made an application for asylum. It also includes children who have not crossed any international borders but have had to leave their homes owing to external dangers. This is the category of children who are internally displaced, often referred to as the population of IDPs, or internally displaced persons. The category may be broadened still further by incorporating children who may be stateless or undocumented and have not entered the asylum process. Refugee and displaced children are present throughout the world, and there is literature that is specific to particular countries and regions. This includes a mass of “gray literature,” including reports commissioned by governments and regional authorities that are aimed at developing a profile of refugee and displaced children including the actual and potential needs and demands they may have regarding government services. A further salient issue is the interdisciplinary nature of the subject area. Important contributions have come from a range of fields, such as social policy, sociology, anthropology, history, psychology, psychiatry, and social work.

General Overviews

In terms of a general overview of the contemporary phenomenon of migration, Castles and Miller 2009 is an excellent introduction. It offers important theoretical perspectives that are vital to the study of refugee and displaced children, as well as a detailed multidisciplinary and global overview of the subject. Rutter 2006 offers a distinctive contribution to understanding policy and practice directed to refugee children in one of the major receiving countries for refugees. Watters 2008 offers theoretical and methodological orientations as well as an examination of programs for refugee children in a range of receiving countries.

  • Castles, Stephen, and Mark J. Miller. The Age of Migration: International Population Movements in the Modern World. 4th ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

    NNNThis is an excellent introductory text that offers a comprehensive overview of the global dynamics of international population movements. Subsequent editions of the book have focused more concertedly on forced migration and offer case studies on the impact of forced migration in a range of countries.

  • Rutter, Jill. Refugee Children in the UK. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press, 2006.

    NNNThis book offers a wide ranging and detailed examination of refugee children in the United Kingdom. It includes an examination of the background of children who arrive in the United Kingdom, and of the policies that are directed toward them, and offers alternative approaches toward policy.

  • Watters, Charles. Refugee Children: Towards the Next Horizon. London and New York: Routledge, 2008.

    NNNThis book offers an examination of the situation of refugee and displaced children from a multidisciplinary and international perspective. It examines the position of children entering Western industrialized countries as asylum seekers or refugees. Chapters focus on theoretical perspectives, unaccompanied minors, children at borders, education, the role of special programs, and good practice. A series of “accomplishments” are presented that represent proposed standards for service delivery to refugee children.

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