Ongoing Project:

Social-Emotional Development in Yazidi Refugee Youth

Researchers: Tina Malti1, Marc Jambon1, Connie Cheung1, Mohamed Al-Adeimi2, Eleanor Myatt1, Danah Elsayed1, and Shahdah Mahhouk1
Affiliation: University of Toronto1 and the South London Neighbourhood Resource Centre (SLNRC)2
Research Partner: South London Neighbourhood Resource Centre
Keywords: Yazidi youth, refugee youth, displacement, trauma, social-emotional development, well-being, quantitative and qualitative research


Objective: This study seeks to explore the social-emotional development of Yazidi youth living as refugees in London, Ontario. Researchers will determine profiles of social-emotional functioning—including prosocial tendencies, peer acceptance, socio-moral emotions, and narratives accounts of past experiences- and challenges of Yazidi refugee youth.

Justification: Between 1,000 to 1,500 Yazidi refugee families currently reside in Canada, many of whom have limited formal education and lack proficiency in Canada’s official languages, resulting in significant barriers to their resettlement and integration. The negative effects of political violence exposure on children’s mental and physical health is well documented; however, the degree to which refugee youth experiencing extreme violence and displacement demonstrate impaired social-emotional functioning (e.g., prosocial behavior; empathy, peer relationships) has received little attention despite their central role in the development of child and adolescent health and wellbeing.

Practical goal: to identify specific social-emotional competencies and areas for improvement in Yazidi refugee youth to benefit future interventions; further our understanding of how the effects of war and trauma on youth’s social-emotional functioning differ by developmental period and gender; and document how parents and youth understand and cope with their experiences of violence and displacement.

Primary audience: Service providers, policy makers, academics, and Yazidi refugees.


This study will utilize well-established assessments to determine the profiles of social-emotional functioning – including prosocial tendencies, peer acceptance, socio-moral emotions, and narrative accounts of past experiences and challenges – of Yazidi refugees. Participants will include 60 youth in middle childhood (7-11 years) and adolescence (12-17 years). Interviews will be conducted with the youth through a Kurdish-speaking interpreter. Further information will be gained from teacher questionnaire ratings of children’s developmental outcomes, including prosociality, problem behaviours, and social adjustment.

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