«The ongoing wars around the world have led to an ever increasing exodus of refugee populations for resettlement in developed countries, including the ...»
Second, some of the measures utilized in the study required participants‟ responses about their self-perceptions (i.e., Self-Perception Profile for Adolescents) and, generally, all measures were administered in a self-report format. The likelihood of social bias/social desirability in participants‟ responses was possible. Besides, some of the participants were directly or indirectly known to the researcher through various community volunteer activities. Although the researcher took precautions (i.e., use of codes instead of participants‟ names on measures) to reduce social bias, having prior knowledge of the researcher also may have impacted the way participants responded to items on study measures (i.e., rating themselves highly than they should). This also may have caused the restricted range of scores in descriptive statistics.
Third, low reliabilities for study measures may have affected the power, ranging from descriptive statistics and correlations among measures. For example, lack of significant differences in psychosocial adjustment by gender may have been due to random error having too large an influence on some study measures (i.e., acculturation and psychosocial adjustment). Higher reliabilities may have provided more information in the analyses of relationships among measures and differences by gender.
Fourth, accessibility and availability of participants was a challenge. Because all
days of the week. The researcher had to go to different community centers as a way of meeting potential participants. Also, some changes had to be made regarding the venue for administration of measures due to other community activities that needed priority.
Generally, there may have been more participants if the venues had been closer to their parents‟ residences.
Overall, this was the first empirical study of acculturation and psychosocial adjustment of African adolescent refugees in resettlement in the U.S. Despite the limitations, the findings set a precedent for future research in examining the relationships among acculturation, social support, and psychosocial adjustment of African adolescent refugees.
The sample size for the present study was small. Thus, future researchers may examine the same variables with a larger sample size. Also, the small sample from specific countries of origin may have hindered significant comparisons among the groups. For example, in examining differences in psychosocial adjustment by gender and duration of stay in the U.S., results indicated that in general, time spent in the U.S. was associated with higher scores for both boys and girls. However, there were no comparisons to determine if there could have been any differences by countries of origin due to the small sample size. A larger sample size could have made more credible
In addition, because duration of stay in the host country seemed to contribute to higher scores on measures, future researchers may need to focus on comparing adolescent refugees who have lived in resettlement at different times (i.e., early years and later years of resettlement) to determine some of the contributing factors regarding how welladjusted or not adjusted they could be in a new country. In particular, researchers might examine at what point of duration adjustment begins to be seen as well as what factors impact initial adjustment and later adjustment, over and beyond those examined in this study (e.g., teacher support, living in neighborhoods with predominantly persons from country of origin vs. host country, coming from country of origin vs. through a refugee camp).
The results also indicated that peer support positively impacted adolescent refugees‟ adjustment. In the present study, peers were considered as close friends or confidants the adolescents talked to about everything. These peers were either from the mainstream or host culture, original culture (i.e., that of adolescent refugees), and other refugee groups.
In the study by Kovacev and Shute (2004) with adolescent refugees from former Republic of Yugoslavia in Australia, peers were divided into two categories; close friends and classmates. In future studies, there may be need to determine which type of friends contributed to African adolescent refugees‟ acculturation and positive adjustment within the new environment.
Furthermore, adolescent refugees‟ support may have been influenced by their premigration sources of social support. That is, on the demographic questionnaire, some of
Therefore, it is possible that participants‟ views about social support may have differed depending on whether they came directly from their original countries or from refugee camps in a different country. For example, those who came from refugee camps could identify more with fellow peers from other countries also resettled in camps while those directly from their countries could identify more with peers from their own cultural background. There are also different expectations from refugee boys and girls by their parents or caregivers. These expectations may range from girls having more responsibilities at home in comparison to boys. Thus, future researchers may need to examine adolescent refugees‟ adjustment by gender to determine any differences in their support systems.
Some participants also may have defined parental support differently due to premigration experiences where they lost their biological parents and are in the care of extended family members (e.g., uncles and aunts). It may be possible that their manner of responding to parental support items differed due to who their caregiver was at the time.
Future researchers may need to be more explicit about the definition of a parent.
Additionally, there could be subjective elements from participants that are not considered in a quantitative study. Therefore, an addition of focus groups or structured interviews could provide more information on African adolescent refugees‟ preferences of peers and in what ways they may contribute to their positive adjustment. These focus groups could be done with individual participants or a group of peers in order to get different perspectives (i.e., as individual adolescent refugees and as a group).
by gender or by specific country. Also, future researchers may include other variables that constitute different environments for African adolescent refugees in resettlement (i.e., the school, other family members, and the ethnic community). These variables may provide other sources of support that were not examined in the present study.
Furthermore, adolescents in the present study reported being well adjusted and supported in their present environments. This supports the arguments by researchers that not all refugees, including adolescent refugees in the present study, are “sick” individuals due to their past traumatic war experiences. Therefore, future researchers could focus more on in depth work through focus groups or structured interviews to determine some of the factors that facilitated their adjustment in host countries.
On a more practical level, the hypothesized model was not analyzed in the present study due to the lack of significant relationships among some of the study measures (i.e., acculturation and psychosocial adjustment) and partly the low reliabilities found in the analyses. In a previous study (Kovacev & Shute, 2004), results showed significant relationships as were hypothesized in the model. However, participants in the study were selected from a metropolitan city unlike the present study in which participants were selected from two cities but not in urban settings. In future studies, researchers may need to use a variety of samples, including participants from more rural, urban and/ or metropolitan areas, to determine if the model applies to adolescent refugees in different settings. Also, during the early stages of research, it could be important to do a pilot study with participants from rural, urban, and metropolitan areas to determine if there may be
For counselor educators, results from this study points to the need for further research into the development and /or refining of culturally appropriate models and theoretical underpinnings with African adolescent refugees. Research with refugees in general has been tailored around medical models and very rarely on psychosocial elements that enhance adjustment in new environments (e.g., Jaranson et al., 2004; Layne et al., 2002;
Murray et al., 2008; Smith et al., 2002). Therefore, it may be that counselor educators need to further examine development of frameworks that are grounded in African adolescent refugees‟ aspects of psychosocial adjustment.
Finally, although there were minimal cultural community activities that provided potential opportunities to make initial contact with participants, attending these activities helped and made it easier to interact with parents and their children. The settings were informal and provided opportunities to engage in activities with adolescent refugees through song, play, and general discussions. Eventually, parental consent was much easier and faster than expected and participants were more willing to participate in the study. In future research with African adolescent refugees, it would be important for researchers to engage with not only cultural brokers, but, when possible, to immerse into some of the cultural activities in the community through participation or observation.
This may alleviate any suspicions of the researcher/s from would-be participants and their parents and/or guardians especially due to cultural differences and past experiences that
This was the first empirical study examining the relationships among acculturation, social support, and psychosocial adjustment of African adolescent refugees in the U.S. In some cities in the U.S., refugee youth are enrolled in preparatory schools (i.e., to learn English language) before joining mainstream American public schools. In both schools, school counselors and teachers need to be aware of the relationship among some of the variables examined in the present study (i.e., parental support and global self-worth; peer support and peer social acceptance). This awareness could lead to involving parents and peers (from mainstream, other refugee backgrounds, and original cultural background) collaboratively in working with adolescent refugees who may be struggling with different issues (i.e., behavioral, academic, and social) in a new school environment.
Because parents play a critical role in the lives of African adolescent refugees, school counselors could identify some of the areas that they could potentially involve them in their children‟s lives. For example, for adolescent refugees in high school, during the decision-making process regarding choices for colleges and major areas of study, parents‟ advice among African youth is considered vital. Therefore, school counselors could work with refugee youth and their parents to help them in making decisions about their education.
Teachers also could work with parents through school organizations such as Parent Teachers Association (PTA) and parent, teacher conferences. Parents‟ resourcefulness about their children‟s education in their countries of origin that had a different setting and
youth adapt to a new curriculum in a new environment. Thus, for teachers both in preparatory and mainstream schools, there is need for open communication with adolescent refugees‟ parents, including communication about their children‟s past school performance and subject areas that may need greater attention.
School officials, teachers, and school counselors also need to be aware that the passing on of cultural values from parents to their children is an on-going process for refugees with African backgrounds. That is, although refugees could be displaced from their countries of origin, parents are obligated to ensure their children learn important values that are part of their cultural heritage. These values include the strong sense of community/togetherness, respect for older persons, and hard work. Therefore, they need to devise different ways of involving parents in school activities with their children during the school year. This may include setting aside a day during the school year for cultural activities (i.e., song, dance, poems, sports) by refugee youth from various countries of origin. Parents could be invited as guests to observe their children being engaged in these activities. Through this, parents will be empowered more as active participants in adolescent refugees‟ lives at home and school, and also they will have a continued sense of pride that school officials recognize their contribution in their children‟s lives.
In community counseling agencies, counselors also need to be aware of the important role of parents in adolescent refugees‟ adjustment in resettlement. Some refugee youth may be referred by school counselors into the community for counseling on various
present adjustment in school. Thus, counselors also could involve parents in counseling sessions or use family counseling approaches in working with adolescent refugees.
Through this, counselors could brainstorm and share ideas with parents about their children and how to better serve them in counseling.
Findings in the present study indicated that peer support contributed to adolescent refugees‟ popularity and feelings of acceptance among their peers. Therefore, school counselors and teachers also need to be aware of the important role peers play in the lives of adolescent refugees during resettlement. Because the school has been found to be an important environment of belonging for adolescent refugees (e.g., Correa-Velez, Gifford, and Barnett, 2010; Kia-Keating & Ellis, 2007), fostering strong peer relationships among adolescents from the mainstream culture and adolescent refugees by school counselors and teachers may provide opportunities for more interaction and establishment of new relationships. This in turn may lead to more opportunities for interaction and engaging in activities that encourage involvement of youth from all backgrounds at school.