Brutal treatment of child refugees

4th March 2005 at 00:00
I was pleased to see TES Friday magazine raise the profile of young asylum-seekers (TES, February 4). We have worked with many families at Paddock junior, infant and nursery school in Huddersfield and they have become an important part of our school community.

Life in school is very difficult if you cannot communicate. We help children to work through the distress and aggression caused by this inability and have been pleased to see them grow in self-confidence and to achieve academically.

So it is with great distress that we hear of our families being taken away in the middle of the night by the immigration authorities without explanation.

Neighbours witnessed one family, including a four-year-old child, being taken away in handcuffs. In another family, four children ranging from four to 17-years-old, were taken without either parent. Their mother was in hospital with heart problems and she returned the next day to an empty house. The stress of the search to find her children led to a relapse and her return to hospital.

Leaving aside arguments about whether they should be here in the first place, we are shocked and disgusted that British society treats these children in such an inhumane way.

Not only do asylum-seeker children suffer, but the school loses children whose problems it knows about. No adult in school can explain to the children where their friends have gone.

As one sixth-former told your reporter: we don't treat dogs like that.

Julie Dempster

Deputy headteacher

Paddock junior, infant and nursery school, Huddersfield

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