Refugee trauma and coping : a study of a group of Vietnamese refugee children attending school in southern England
Vietnamese refugee children resettled in the West seem doomed to inevitable failure at school. The profound psychological, sociocultural and educational adjustments required of such children in their country of asylum have encouraged many writers to view the 'chances of survival' of such children from a largely pathological perspective of 'doom and gloom'. In examining the 'educational coping' and 'social adjustment' of a group of Vietnamese refugee children resettled in three counties in Southern England, this Study found that somewhat contrary to expectations, the majority of the Sample showed not only 'good' Social Adjustment, but also Reading and Mathematics attainment that did not differ significantly from 'national norms' for the ordinary school population in the U.K. In attempting to account for these main findings of the Study, a number of factors in the home, school and individual circumstances of these children were explored. Of these, four factors were seen as particularly crucial to the early transition and overall school adjustment of these children. These are: the strong sense of security and family solidarity enjoyed by the majority of these refugee children within the context of their generally stable and supportive homes; the practical interest and concern shown by most of these parents in the academic progress of their children; the initial special language help received by the older refugee children; and the effective liaison-service maintained between these refugee homes and the school. The wider issue• of the British host society's response to these incoming Vietnamese refugee-immigrants is considered in the last Chapter. The inadequacy of an 'assimilationist' approach to the education of ethnic minorities is examined, along with the need for a complete reappraisal and reorientation of the existing educational system to meet the changing needs of a multicultural British society.