Case Study – Identifying and Documentation of Separated Children

(Story of Jean-Claude)

by Group 9 (Martina, Yogo, Priyono)

How to Identify and Document Separated Children – Information Needed

Basic Information Required for Documenting a Separated Child

Basic personal data:
Family names • forename/given name/nicknames or other names • sex • date of birth/year • place of birth • tribe/casts/ethnic origin • nationality • language spoken • religion • education • particular identifying features (birth marks, scars, disabilities, tattoos, etc) • personal belongings.

Accompanying siblings:
(Brother/sisters/other child relatives) • Names • sexes • ages • relationships • address if different from the child.

Circumstances when identified:
Location/address where found • date and time. If found/reported by other adults: the adult’s names • address • relationship to child

If in the care of these adults:
How the association came about • the length of time the child has been with them; if found with other separated children: the names and reference/registration numbers of the other children • how long they have been together. What immediate care needs are there and can adults continue to care adequately for the child?

Family relationship:
Name • age/date of birth • relationship to the child • occupation • last known location/address of: father, mother, step parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, other relatives or other persons normally living in the family household (extended family or friends).

Circumstances of the family/child separation:
Reasons for separation • date and place of separation • when and in what circumstances child last saw parents/other family members • if death of parents is presumed, why child believes this to be so.

History of the child before the separation:
Important events in the child’s life • descriptions of people and places remembered.

History of the child since separation:
Places of residence • legal status on any formal placements • length of time spent in each place • important events, people and places remembered • how shelter, food and water was obtained.

Psychosocial assessment:
Appraisal of the child’s current emotional state • the importance of current relationships • extent to which the child’s (age-specific) developmental needs are being met. Other information of importance for the daily care of the child.

The child’s intentions, wishes, plans, best interest concerns:
With whom the child wishes to be reunited if tracing is successful • their relationship • where and how they might be traced for • information about the wishes of the parents, if known, for the child.

Other information relevant for tracing:
Names and locations/addresses of other persons who may provide additional information that might be helpful in establishing the child’s identity, locating family members or understanding more fully the circumstances of the separation • information relevant to the determination of refugee status and wishes for repatriation, local settlement or resettlement, where appropriate.

Information on Jean Claude

Identity of the Child

Child’s Name : Jean Claude
Child’s Age : 8 Years Old
Gender : male

Family Information
Father : separated, condition unknown.
Mother : separated, condition unknown.
Siblings : 4 (2 male, 2 female)
Female sibling 1 : separated.
Female sibling 2 : separated.
Male sibling 1 : Emile (3 years old), separated.
Male sibling 2 : Pascal (2 years old), separated.

Current Situation

Current location : Red Cross Camp
Brothers/sister with the child : none.

History of Separation
Date of separation : (N/A)
Circumstances of the separation:
The war in country X had spread to villages. On the day of the separation, there was a fight in from of the child’s house. The child grabbed his 3 years old brother to escape the danger to the direction where most of the villagers headed.

The child was told that they could get food and shelter at the Red Cross camp, so he and his brother went to go there. They had to cross a river in order to get to the camp. On their way there, the weather is raining heavily. At one point someone heard a shooting and the situation become panicked. At that moment, the child was separated for his 3 years old brother. He tried to look for his brother but after that he decided to continue his way to the Red Cross camp where the next day an officer form Red Cross CP found him sleeping in a corner of the camp.


Photographs of unaccompanied and separated children are essential for their registration as well as tracing programs. Because photographs can provide a recognizable image, they should be kept on file by all agencies collaborating to meet the needs of separated children and they should be replicable for use in tracing. Every effort should be made to take photographs of Jean Claude to be included in the documentation of separated children.

To make photographs for documentations, areas should be designated where photographs can be taken in a manner that ensures the safety of children while respecting their privacy. Polaroid (instant) cameras or digital cameras are usually the most effective cameras to use because the photograph can be verified immediately. Priority needs to be given to taking pictures of younger children as babies and toddlers change rapidly and families may have a harder time recognizing them if they have not seen them for several months. Prepare a small board (or a notebook) and write the child’s registration number on it in BIGLETTERS. Underneath the number, write other information you think is necessary as well as the location of the child in code. The child’s name should never be included on the photograph. For the safety of the child, their identity should be protected and their location should be expressed as a letter or number code that only you or your agency (in this case, The Red Cross) will understand.

More information on how to make identification and to take photograph of separated children, read: Separated Children Care & Protection of Children in Emergencies: A Field Guide by Amy Hepburn, Jan Williamson & Tanya Wolfram. Save The Children (2004).

How to Find Answers

Core Principles in Helping Separated Children
Several guiding principles for humanitarian actions on the behalf of separated children:
  1. Best Interests: should guide all decisions and actions
  2. Participation: right to participate in decisions
  3. Family Unity: all children have a right to a family and families have a right and responsibility to care for children their children. Every effort should be made to preserve family unity.

Interviewing Separated Children
Interviewing children and community members is a critical aspect of the registration and documentation process. Initial interviews gather the basics (name, age, and parents’ names) and details of the child’s history (a brief sequential report of how the separation occurred, information about where the family could be). Over time, those caring for the child can collect further details. If necessary, priority should be given to interviewing very young children separated in emergency situations, and unaccompanied children as they are particularly vulnerable and their memories are less likely to be long-term. Interviews should be done by the staff caring for children (listening and recording what they remember over time) and by local staff trained to conduct interviews with children for purposes of tracing.

What to do next?

[1] Protect children from further harm
  • Protection against exploitation and abuse
  • Prevent adoption and evacuation
  • Avoid use of institutions and orphanages
  • Separate care and education functions of religious boarding schools

[2] Trace the child’s family
[3] Verification – once the family has been located.
[4] Reunification
[5] Follow – up.