Victims or criminals? The vulnerability of separated children in the context of migration in the United Kingdom and Italy
Author(s): A. Furia
Despite the periodic and official commitments of the United Kingdom and Italian governments with regard to separated children’s rights and welfare, academics, non-governmental organisations and international organisations have widely emphasised that in both countries the effective protection of children is hindered by harsh immigration laws, policies and practices. In spite of this growing body of literature, policy-makers have paid little attention to questions concerning children and migration, showing a lack of political will to effectively protect their rights and address their vulnerability. This paper focuses on some of the most critical issues that emerge from the literature concerning the situation of separated children in the United Kingdom and Italy, with the aim of highlighting the impact that national laws, policies and practices have on the framing and production of their vulnerability. The first part of the paper discusses discourses which criminalise, victimise or emphasise the vulnerability of separated children; the second part of the paper provides an overview of the relevant legislative and policy frameworks in Italy and the UK; and the third part of the paper discusses ‘worst’ practices and protection gaps. The paper concludes that while there is an urgent need for a more consistent and holistic approach to child migration issues, the current research and policy emphasis on the vulnerability of separated children needs to be based on further research and policy discussion that focuses both on the impact of immigration laws and policies on separated children’s vulnerability; and also, most importantly, on the narratives underpinning and legitimising national immigration regimes.