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Field observation: inadequate information practices

The MIMNA project is based on a field observation: information practices for MNAs are frequently inadequate or non-existent. Professionals are often unequipped to deal with UASC’s misunderstandings. They are both in a situation shared-handicap (handicap partagée) [1]: each being unable to understand the other and to be understood by the other. Thus, when they arrive in child protection services, UASC can stay several weeks, or even several months, sometimes in a total misunderstanding of the reception conditions, their environment (socio-cultural, institutional), the assessment procedures that affect their future in France, the measures that are decided for them, their rights. It should also be noted that the reality of the temporality of the UASC’s information needs upon arrival is often not in line with the reality of the possibilities to access to an interpreter (number, availability, languages, costs) and the reality of the informational urgency, which in our opinion are the responsibility of professionals

MIMNA project approach: guaranteeing access to effectively child-friendly information

Despite UASC's agency, given their situation of linguistic, intercultural, psychological and procedural vulnerability (Estève, Coron, Gaultier, in press 2019), guaranteeing them access to a adequate information should be a priority issue for protection, reception and support measures, as noted in the national (ANESM, 2017) and European recommendations (Council of Europe, 2018).

“Child-friendly information” means that information must be adapted to a child’s age, maturity, language, gender and culture[2]. This will require the information provider to adjust the information and complexity of their communication according to each individual child’s situation right up to the age of 18. These elements should be taken into account cumulatively. Any information can be rendered child-friendly by the information provider, including generic information on rights and youth information. This can be achieved by adapting the information accordingly” (Conseil de l’Europe, 2018 : 16).

The MIMNA project is an interdisciplinary action-research project, intersecting the Unaccompanied and Separated Children’s informational needs and the professionals’ transmission needs. The various field analyses carried out as part of this project served as a basis for the formalization of principles and strategies of mediation of knowledge that can guarantee a real child-friendly information to UASC.
By child-friendly information we mean that information allows the UASC not only to activate meaning but also to appropriate himself or herself information and build knowledge that is meaningful to him or her[3].

[1] Here we adapt the expression used by Mottez (2006(1985)) in the context of deafness.
Guidelines of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on child-friendly justice, a dopted on 17 November 2010
[3] We join the mediation of knowledge process developed by Fabre & Gardiès. It gives a central place to the receiver in informational devices:  « Si l’information est considérée comme un contenu cognitif situé dans un processus de communication où le récepteur a un rôle primordial d’activation, d’interprétation et d’appropriation « les nouveaux processus de médiation doivent, [..], prendre en compte l’activation du sens par le récepteur […], pour lui permettre d’appréhender et s’approprier l’information afin de construire des connaissances signifiantes pour lui » » (Fabre & Gardiès, 2010 cité par Gardiès & Rinaudo, 2015). ["If the information is considered as cognitive content located in a process of communication where the receiver has a primary role of activation, interpretation and appropriation", the new processes of mediation must, [...], take into account the activation of meaning by the receiver[...], to allow him to apprehend and appropriate himself or herself information in order to build meaningful knowledge for him or her"] (our translation)

Submitted on January 25, 2024

Updated on January 25, 2024