In June, Zoe Given-Wilson was invited to speak at a meeting of the IGC - an international, intergovernmental group of immigration policy makers who meet regularly to develop strategic thinking and share knowledge and best practice about migration around the world.
At their latest meeting, the group were particularly concerned to address the increasing numbers of children arriving in North America and Europe, fleeing conflict and other dangers such as gang violence or persecution. Many are trafficked, and some travel ahead of parents. All are vulnerable because of their age. Most protection mechanisms developed by governments to assess asylum applications and provide sanctuary are designed primarily to deal with adults, and have to be adapted to meet the needs of children.
Zoe was invited to speak after her review of the literature on child and adolescent psychology and child development was published as a chapter in the CREDO report Heart of the Matter. The report examines the key issues to take into account when assessing the credibility of children and young people making applications for asylum. Zoe’s research is being recognised at high levels as an important reminder of the need to take an interdisciplinary approach to protecting unaccompanied children seeking asylum. In her presentation, Zoe talked about the key factors that need to be taken into consideration when making credibility assessment in children – both those relating to the child, including both normal child development and autobiographical memory; and those relating to decision making, the assumptions that underlie the judgements of decision makers, and the need to ensure that these are in line with scientific evidence for what we know about child development, and memory.