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Study shows high levels of exclusion and bullying of foreign minors in Malta

Research has revealed serious concerns regarding the inclusion of foreign children in Malta. The Centre for Resilience and Socio-Emotional Health of the University of Malta, in collaboration with the Maltese Commissioner for Children, found that one-third of foreign children experience physical or verbal bullying during their school years. Based on interviews, the researchers report that almost 45% of them experience name-calling, some of them on a daily basis. Although motivations behind the bullying are not always specified, some children mentioned their race, religion, or inability to speak Maltese or English as causes.

Some groups are particularly vulnerable. Students of lower socioeconomic standing are less likely to be included in social or educational activities. In addition, children from Africa or the Middle East face a greater degree of exclusion than students from other countries. They also generally have fewer friends and are less likely to participate in school activities.

The research focused on children aged up to 16 who were either born outside Malta or born in Malta to non-Maltese parents. There were four studies conducted:

  1. The first study, carried out with school-age foreign children (Kindergarten to Form 5), examined their education, inclusion, physical health, mental health and resilience, access to services and wellbeing. This study gathered information on more than 1,000 foreign children aged 3-16 (18% of all school-age foreign children in Malta) through questionnaires completed by children, parents and/or teachers.
  2. The second study focused on young foreign children (0-3 years), with information on more than 100 children attending childcare centres collected through questionnaires completed by their parents and their centre carers respectively.
  3. The third study qualitatively examined children’s subjective wellbeing in various aspects of their lives through five focus groups with primary and secondary school foreign children of various nationalities.
  4. The fourth study looked at the attitudes of Maltese students towards foreign children living in Malta. 1,360 primary, middle and secondary school students completed a questionnaire on issues like social interaction, acculturation expectations, intercultural ideology, levels of tolerance and prejudice, perceived consequences of migration and attitudes towards ethnocultural groups.

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