Material Module 11: Reporting on Migrants and Refugees: Dealing with Trauma

Working with traumatized migrants and refugees: What journalists should know and how they can protect themselves

Three out of four refugees who come from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are “severly traumatized” after violent experiences. This is shown by a survey conducted by the German health insurance company AOK’s research institute. According to the survey, 74,7 percent of the surveyed refugees have personally experienced violence, while men and women were affected equally. Many of them stated they suffer from physical and mental health issues. Amongst the most common symptoms were despondency, sadness and depression (42,7 percent), but also nervousless and restlessness (42,9 percent). Moreover, nearly 37 percent suffer from physical complaints such as back pain and headaches.

Considering these research results, journalists working in the field of migrant and refugee reporting should have basic medical knowledge about trauma. They should also learn about interviewing techniques and coping strategies that can protect them from secondary traumatization. According to German trauma coach Fee Rojas “trauma can be infectious”. But eventually, not only journalists themselves are responsible for their physical condition, but also their employers and colleagues.

The following interactive video will help journalists and editors-in-chief to get a better understanding of trauma. The interview includes several statements from trauma professionals Stefan Lieder (Psychologist at the Center for Trauma and Conflict Management in Cologne, Germany) and Fee Rojas (Trauma coach from Hanover, Germany). They talk about general aspects of  trauma and give helpful advices for interviews with traumatized people and how journalists can protect themselves from secondary traumatization.

It is highly recommended to watch and listen to the interview carefully, as several interactions are included to test the listening comprehension. The tasks include multiple-choice questions, gap texts and true-or-false questions. Each task is based on the previously said statements.

The video has a total length of ten and a half minutes. Combined with the learning tasks, the exercise should be done in under twenty minutes. If no satisfaction score is gotten, an option is to watch the video again. Good luck!

Task 1: Dealing with trauma An interactive video on the topic

Covering refugee children and trauma: What ground rules apply when interviewing refugee children and migrants?

An important subtopic of dealing with trauma is covering migrants and refugee children. Many refugee children experience tragic events and/or are victims of violence. Therefore, journalists need to be extra careful to not retraumatize children when interviewing them. Moreover, they should always report with sensitivity and compassion (Teichroeb, 1). Children react differently to trauma than parents, wherefore, special rules apply when covering traumatized children.

The Dart Center provides a detailed brochure on covering children and trauma, which can be found here.

After reading the information booklet, the multiple-choice quiz about children and trauma below can be tried. There are a total of twelve questions that test and deepen knowledge about refugee children and trauma using situational questions.
(All questions are based on the brochure “Covering Children and Trauma” and all solutions contain numbers that refer to the respective paragraph of the booklet.)

Task 2: Multiple-Choice Quiz Dealing with refugee children and trauma


Teichroeb, R. Covering Children and Trauma: A guide for Journalism Educators. Dart Center, 2006.

Authors: Lena Feuser, Anika Hinz, Katja Hönes

%d bloggers like this: