Political unrest, natural disasters, ongoing conflict, and unstable economies have continued to plague the lives and safety of many individuals seeking refuge and or a better quality of life outside their country of origin. According to UNICEF the number of international migrant children in 2020 reached 36 million.
The trajectory of migration can be challenging and often extremely dangerous for anyone to endure. This migration process, especially forced or involuntary, can be equally if not more taxing on children whose lives are often violently disrupted and are forced to flee, in the face of danger or challenging circumstances. Desperate parents or caregivers often resort to extreme measures to ensure a better, if only a little chance, of a better life for their children.
The impact of migration, particularly conflict-induced, on a child can be mentally, physically, and emotionally traumatizing, severely impacting their development, education, and well-being. Children of immigrant families are an extremely vulnerable group often falling into exploitative and abusive situations including that of sex and labor trafficking.
Migrant children, particularly those from less affluent circles, often lie at the mercy of systems that are not always adequate as they seek refuge in a new country. These children often face challenges in accessing basic services including education, health, and strong community support. They may also be at the mercy of a society that subjects them to discriminatory attitudes furthering impacting their childhood experience, overseeing the dire need that lies in protecting and upholding the dignity of every human life seeking a better life, most of all children.
How are we welcoming and walking next to these young individuals and their migratory stories as future contributors within our global society?
Monthly column written for St. Joseph Catholic Church, Tampa, FL