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Annotated Bibliography Ager, A. (1996). Children, war, and psychological intervention. In S. Carr and J. Schumaker (Eds.), Psychology and the developing world. Westport: Praeger. This chapter provides a broad overview of some of the major issues in psychological research on the impact of war on children. The author touches on a number of different ways of conceptualizing the responses of children to war and discusses some of the interventions undertaken that help children function adaptively in their own cultural world. In analyzing the impact of war on children, this chapter makes the point that personal, familial, and broader social experiences are all relevant in developing an understanding of the salient aspects of the children’s experiences. A child has a schemata or model of how the world is, and when he or she experiences something that does not fit into this conceptualization of the world, for example, an incident of violence, torture, or injury, the child may be unable to assimilate the new information. Children need to cope with the contradictions between the values and behaviors of the past and the present; this is the major challenge they face in trying to cope with their distressing experiences. Within psychology two discourses exist: those emphasizing the vulnerability of children and those emphasizing their resilience. Some of the factors that assist children in coping, for example, parental presence, religious or political ideology, and personal coping styles, are reviewed.
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Ager, A. (1997). Tensions in the psychosocial discourse: Implications for the planning of interventions with war-affected populations. Development in Practice,7(4), 402-407. This article addresses some of the fundamental conceptual tensions that underlie debates about the implementation of psychosocial interventions with war-affected populations. Three particular tensions are identified: the generalizability versus the uniqueness of relevant knowledge; the valuing of technical versus indigenous understandings; and the planning of targeted versus community-based interventions. Programs that emphasize more general, technical, and targeted approaches to providing psychosocial interventions may adopt a clinical, decontextualized approach that focuses on individuals. In contrast, those programs that advocate unique, indigenous, and community-based approaches may suggest that there is no role for Western psychosocial work at all in helping alleviate the distress and suffering of populations. A model of phased response to psychosocial needs is proposed that takes account of some of these tensions. Four discrete phases of potential response are identified: the first is to ensure minimal disruption of intact protective influences; the second is aimed at the reestablishment of protective influences; the third is the provision of compensatory support; and the fourth is targeted therapeutic intervention. Only if psychosocial needs remain unmet by the first three phases should the fourth phase be instituted. The proposed model suggests that psychosocial programs begin with an explicit emphasis on unique, indigenous understandings and community-based support, and move toward more generalizable, technical understandings and targeted support only when evidence suggests that this is appropriate. Ager, A. (2000). Psychosocial programs: Principles and practice for research and evaluation. In F.L. Ahearn (Ed.), Psychosocial wellness of refugees. Issues in qualitative and quantitative research.Oxford: Berghahn Books. In order to facilitate the identification and replication of good practice there needs to be a commitment to the open and effective evaluation of programs, involving the assessment of their impact against predetermined criteria. The core question to be answered by evaluation is: “Have the goals of the program been achieved?” This chapter outlines quantitative, qualitative, and multimethod approaches to the evaluation of psychosocial interventions. Key concepts of psychometric measurement are discussed and issues of validity, reliability, and sensitivity are explained. Concepts of the interpretation of results, such as generalizability, significance, and represen
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tativeness are explored and illustrative studies are used to show how researchers have used quantitative methods to evaluate projects. Similarly, the key concepts of measurement for qualitative approaches are discussed, and issues of triangulation, comprehensiveness of data, and transferability are addressed. Examples of studies using qualitative methods are given. Multi-method approaches combine the strengths of both approaches by using the “persuasiveness” of statistical data together with the information-rich data from qualitative research on the perspectives of beneficiaries. Qualitative interviews can also be used to ground concepts that are subsequently examined in a more quantitative manner. The author suggests that evaluation of psychosocial projects needs to be undertaken rigorously in order to move beyond the situation in which concern rather than reasoned extrapolation informs program development. Ahearn, F.L. (Ed.). (2000). Psychosocial wellness of refugees. Issues in qualita tive and quantitative research.London: Berghahn. The focus of this book is on research approaches to investigating psychosocial issues influencing war-affected populations. Most researchers and practitioners need to defend the assumptions of their psychosocial programs and demonstrate the efficacy and appropriateness of their interventions. A careful application of research strategies helps clarify the definitions and program outcomes and can inform discussions of policy, planning, and funding. The book therefore provides examples and suggestions for how research can be conducted into psychosocial issues, as well as highlighting the strengths and limitations of various approaches. The first two chapters in the book provide an overview of different methodological approaches and how these can be applied to the evaluation of psychosocial programs. Case studies are then presented of qualitative approaches, such as ethnographic and autobiographical methods of understanding refugees’ conceptions of health, illness, and distress. Quantitative case studies that make use of various measurement tools are also included, for example, a chapter by Raija-Leena Punamaki, reviewing her research with Palestinian women conducted over a number of years. A section on mixed approaches presents some studies that combine both qualitative and quantitative methods in order to make use of insights gained from the different orientations to research. This book is primarily intended for researchers and academics who seek information about what different methodological approaches offer in relation to studying the psychosocial needs of refugees, giving some
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concrete recommendations for conducting quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-method studies. Ahearn, F.L. and Athey, J. (Eds.). (1991). Refugee children. Theory, research and services. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. The objectives of this edited book are to focus attention on and increase the understanding of child refugees through the presentation of theory, research, and the delivery of services in order to better inform model strategies for interventions. The chapters in this book predominantly deal with refugee populations in the United States and several chapters describe research conducted with groups such as Indochinese and Central American refugees. Refugee adaptation in settlement countries is discussed by John Berry who uses the concept of acculturation to illustrate how refugees assimilate, integrate, or become marginalized in the host society. The editors provide a general overview of mental health issues faced by refugee children. Stressors such as trauma, loss and deprivation are discussed, and the ways in which the family may either buffer the effects of war, migration and resettlement experiences or, on the other hand, may add to the child’s stress. Service and treatment issues are explored in several chapters, for instance, the necessity to incorporate biculturally trained staff and to provide culturally sensitive outreach to refugee communities. Services for refugee children need to be based on the same principles as systems designed for effective service delivery for all children: flexibility, accessibility, and appropriateness. The final chapter examines the need for primary prevention programs for refugee youth that incorporate cultural and spiritual elements of the refugee community. Ahearn, F.L., Loughry, M., and Ager, A. (1999). The experience of refugee children. In A. Ager (Ed.), Refugees. Perspectives on the experience of forced migration. London & New York: Pinter. This chapter gives an overview of the range of challenges that children face when forced to flee from situations of violent conflict. Common occurrences, such as separation from and loss of family members, the deprivations and exertions of flight, and traumatic experiences are some of the difficulties refugee children face. The authors stress, however, that children are never merely passive recipients of such experiences but are active “constructors” of events and responses where they actively seek to impose meaning on these events. The mediating factors that influence children’s coping capacity are discussed, for example, the child’s developmental age, available
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family and community support, and individual characteristics of the child. Attention is given to the situation of children who are resettled in a third country, and the problems they may face when arriving in a country where they do not speak the language, may be without family support, and may face racism and discrimination. Children are found to adjust better to new situations when they and their families experience a high degree of community acceptance and receive social and economic support that allows them to integrate into the new society. The chapter points to the importance of taking into account premigration, migration and postmigration factors when seeking to understand the social and emotional challenges refugee children face. The importance of keeping refugee families together and preventing separation is also stressed, as this seems to contribute to a child’s ability to adjust to his or her postflight environment. Ajdukovic, M. and Busko, V. (1997). School-based health and peace initia tive. Trauma healing and peaceful problem solving program for primary schools in Western and Eastern Slovenia. Zagreb: UNICEF/ CARE/ McMaster University Project/ Croatian Ministry of Education and Sports. This report describes a joint psychosocial initiative by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere, Inc. (CARE), McMaster University Project, and the Croatian Ministry of Education and Sports that seeks to move beyond “trauma healing” and incorporates tolerance building, conflict resolution, problem solving, and communication skills training. The reasoning behind this was that a more comprehensive approach to psychosocial issues was needed rather than the conventional psychological approach that separates trauma from the children’s other experiences. It was designed as a 20-week extracurricular educational activity for primary school children and was implemented in a number of schools. The program provides the children with a range of information and skills about the resolution of everyday problems and living in peace with others around them. It includes mechanisms for building self-esteem, teaching listening skills, and helping teachers and children experience new methods of interactive learning. Teachers are important people in the lives of war-affected children and the program focuses on supporting teachers to help prepare the children for a peaceful future. An evaluation of the program was conducted, using a pre-and posttest intervention design with comparable intervention and control groups, Likert scales and qualitative data gathering. Ten evaluation dimensions were identified, including school grades, self-
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esteem, social skills practices, and bias awareness. A PTSD assessment was also used as one of the ways of assessing whether the program had the desired impact on the children. Amnesty International (1997). In the firing line. War and children’s rights. London: Amnesty International UK. The aim of this book is to demonstrate the scale and scope of children’s involvement in armed conflict and awareness that international efforts to prevent this phenomenon need to be enhanced. The book includes contributions from several expert authors. Maggie Black outlines how patterns of conflict have changed with women and children not only becoming the primary casualties but often the actual targets of modern conflict. Robert Beasley highlights the many ways in which war has affected children, draws on cases from around the world, and discusses the physical and psychological effects of armed conflict and land mines. Rachel Brett writes about child soldiers and the various factors that have contributed to their growing use, including the sale of weapons and arms exports to armed factions. The plight of refugee children is investigated by Simon Russell who notes that an estimated 14 million children are displaced through conflict at the time of writing the book. Finally, the last chapter addresses aspects of international law that can be used to enhance the protection of children affected by war, for example, by making the recruitment of child soldiers a war crime. Amnesty International (2000). Hidden scandal, secret shame. Torture and ill-treatment of children. London: Amnesty International Publications. This book reports on the endemic violence, abuse, and torture of children. It identifies and describes the international legal standards that define and prohibit the torture and ill-treatment of children and some of the difficulties inherent in responding to the torture of children within a legal framework originally conceived for adults. Part of the problem lies in the “invisibility” of torture directed against children as there is general disbelief that it exists and systematic underreporting of this issue. Because of this most perpetrators of these crimes against children enjoy impunity, a situation which the international community needs to challenge. The work of Amnesty International concentrates on preventing the torture of children in three situations: juvenile justice, children in armed conflict, and children in the community. They note the particular vulnerability of children who may be singled out by armies and paramilitary groups using torture as a
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tactic of terrorizing and subjugating the civilian population. The rape and sexual abuse of girls and women is of particular concern in situations of armed conflict. This report provides a general overview of the situation of children subjected to torture, giving case examples of the experiences of certain children and the respective responses, if any, by the governments. It highlights the urgent need for measures to combat and prevent the continuation of these practices. Apfel, R. and Simon, B. (Eds.). (1996). Minefield in their hearts. The men tal health of children in war and communal violence. New Haven: Yale University Press. This edited book is a key resource in the field of psychosocial work with children affected by armed conflict and has played a significant role in debates in this area. The chapters are written by mental health practitioners and researchers and are aimed at professionals working with children affected by violent conflict. Critical issues are raised by the editors in the introduction, such as the definition of normal and abnormal child development, resourcefulness and resilience among children, and the appropriateness of different kinds of psychological interventions. Some of these questions are answered by the contributors in the book who, in addition, focus on a range of issues, such as ethical considerations, the assessment and formulation of treatment for traumatized children, the involvement of communities in programmatic interventions, and conducting research with children in violent settings. Many authors stress the need for developing theoretical frameworks that can be applied to situations differing from those within which much of Western psychological training takes place, thereby preventing the implementation of hasty, ill-considered interventions. One of the strengths of this book is that all contributors write from practical experience of having worked with children and provide guidelines for mental health professionals who may be confronted with some of the problems discussed in the book. In addition, one of the chapters, written by Yael Danieli, focuses on emotional consequences of working with war-affected children for the caretakers, highlighting some of the principles that can assist professionals to cope with their own responses to the stories of suffering and trauma they hear on a continuous basis. Action for the Rights of Children (2001). Action for the rights of children. A rights-based training and capacity building initiative. Geneva: UNHCR/ SCF/UNICEF.
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This key resource, developed by UNHCR and Save the Children as a direct response to the UN Study on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children (the Machel Study), is the most comprehensive resource in the field at present. Its primary goal is to increase the capacity of UN, government, and NGO staff to protect and care for children from the emergency through to the durable solutions phase. ARC consists of a number of resource packs that are available via the UNHCR’s web site. Two main types of resource packs exist: those dealing with foundations for work with war-affected children, such as international legal standards, child and adolescent development, and community mobilization; and those dealing with critical issues, such as child soldiers, disability, land mine awareness, and sexual and reproductive health. Each resource pack contains briefing notes, participatory training materials and training aids, providing relevant information about the issues under consideration and clear guidelines for how the topic can be addressed in workshop sessions. In addition, a Facilitators Toolkit gives potential facilitators ideas about participatory training approaches. The materials are constructed in a flexible way for adaptation to specific training needs as well as the profiles of the recipients, thus being relevant not only to formal training events but also for workshop discussions. The resource packs have been used in various regional workshops to develop in-country plans and for capacity-strengthening initiatives in various parts of the world, and translations in French and Spanish are available. One of the objectives of the ARC is to alert staff to the multiple and complex factors that inter-relate and affect the well-being of children. Multiple cross-references to other issues are therefore included in all resource packs to engage staff in a broader analysis and discussions of issues that relate to the best interests of the child. Ayotte, W. (2000). Separated children coming to Western Europe. Why they travel and how they arrive.London: Save the Children UK. Children separated from the security of family, home, and country face acute feelings of loss and uprootedness. Their position is exacerbated by the hidden nature of their predicament, the difficulties they have in establishing entitlement to protection, their lack of survival knowledge in a foreign “adult” world, and their economic situation. This report analyzes the multiplicity of migratory factors affecting separated children, the reasons for why and how they come to Europe, and their experiences upon arrival. It is predominantly qualitative in nature as few reliable statistics are available,
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and it is based on interviews with young people, officials, professionals, and NGOs. The report notes that a significant number of children had already become separated from one or both parents prior to leaving their country of origin due to death, imprisonment, illness, or family breakdown. Reasons for seeking asylum in other countries include not only issues of personal security but also serious deprivation, the absence of fundamental socioeconomic rights and family issues. Occurrences of the torture of children and the sale of children for exploitation in Europe are further factors that contribute to the plight of the children. The recommendations of the report focus on six areas that can help improve the children’s chances of receiving appropriate assistance upon their arrival in Europe: asylum; children’s rights; trade, aid and foreign policy; trafficking; family reunification; and the training of professionals working with separated children. Bernard van Leer Foundation (2001). Effectiveness initiative: First fruits. In Early childhood matters. The Hague: Bernard van Leer Foundation. This edition of Early Childhood Matters deals with the issue of evaluating effectiveness. The Effectiveness Initiative was launched in response to a need for early childhood projects, aimed at the social inclusion of young children, to share their lessons of failure and success with one another in order to identify the factors that make these programs work. Programs from 10 countries participated over a period of two years in answering the question: “What makes early childhood programs effective, in a variety of contexts and for diverse participants?” The Effectiveness Initiative aims to test the application of qualitative and participatory research methods to activate international dialogue on effectiveness. The report shares some of the insights gained through the Effectiveness Initiative process, for example, the importance for setting aside informal spaces for reflection and self-evaluation. Setting aside such “space,” literally and figuratively, allows people at all levels of the project (from beneficiaries, to staff, to community members, and visitors) to assimilate what the project offers. The use of the staff’s own language rather than that of the funders was found to be important, as well as the way in which findings of the investigations were reported back to the participants. In some organizations the Effectiveness Initiative was seen as an opportunity for capacity building and activation. The individual reports of the 10 projects, while not directly relevant to psychosocial issues, provide some ideas for how evaluation processes can be conducted in creative and participatory ways.
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Black, M. (2001). Growing up alone: Childhood under siege. London: UNICEF UK. This UNICEF report draws attention to the situation of unaccompanied, separated, and orphaned children who grow up alone or with other children as a result of the family fragmentation and social disintegration caused by conflict. The emotional and psychological “wilderness” into which many such children are cast as a condition of growing up alone is examined. In some cases, the children mentioned in this report are not literally alone as they may have one or two parents, siblings, or substitute parents who may be trying to look after them. The level of deprivation in their life, however, implies spiritual isolation and damage to their hearts and minds. Children are frequently targeted in today’s armed conflicts as armed groups realize that the suffering inflicted on them destroys the existing fabric and the very basis of human relationships. The report details the common experiences that children undergo when violence disrupts their lives, such as flight, homelessness, camp life, separation, and the loss of family members. School is emphasized as a safe and friendly space where children learn, play, and socialize when they are not at home and frequently serves as a primary context for addressing spiritual and mental suffering associated with conflict. The protection of girls who may be particularly vulnerable to rape, sexual exploitation, and early marriage is also stressed. The report ends with an agenda for action aimed at UK-based NGOs who seek to assist children growing up alone. Blackwell, D. and Melzack, S. (2000). Far from the battle but still at war. Troubled refugee children in school. London: Child Psychotherapy Trust. This booklet is a joint undertaking by the Medical Foundation Caring for Victims of Torture and the Child Psychotherapy Trust, both based in London. It is addressed to teachers working with refugee children who are unable to participate adequately in the educational program of the school due to distressing experiences. The authors stipulate that the majority of refugee children integrate well into school and make a positive contribution to the school community. There are a few children, however, who express themselves in ways that may be disruptive or disturbing, for example, through explosive anger, problems with authority, withdrawal, and age inappropriate behavior. The booklet aims to help teachers understand the experiences of the children and their behaviors as well to provide some reflections on the teachers’ responses, the parents’ experiences, and their relationship to the school. While no lists of “solutions” are provided since
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the situation requires flexibility, imagination, and sensitivity on behalf of the teachers, some guidelines are offered. Managing one’s own feelings and being realistic about the problems that the children are facing is a starting point and includes “living with” the child’s unhappiness. Providing containment, constancy, and rules to the children is important as this gives a reassuring sense of stability. Referral to specialist help is an option but the authors warn against believing that this is a magic cure that will right the situation immediately. A supportive adult to whom the children can turn at times of particular difficulty contributes to children feeling understood. Volunteers from a refugee community may play this role and may also provide links to other members of the refugee community. Blomqvist, U. (1995). Protection of children in refugee emergencies. The im portance of early social work intervention—The Rwandan experience. Stockholm: Radda Barnen. This report focuses on the role of social work in refugee emergencies by presenting the case of Rwandan children during the crisis in 1994. Relief programs were established for Rwandan refugees in Tanzania, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that dealt with the large numbers of unaccompanied minors who needed to be identified, reunited with family members, or placed in fostering arrangements. The author notes, while attempts were made to avoid the establishment of reception centers for the children, this could not be avoided in the DRC in the initial phase of the emergency. “Community supporters” from the refugee population were trained and took over the tasks of screening potential foster families. Psychosocial rehabilitation programs were established during the postemergency phase that involved seminars for teachers, health care workers, and other community members for training in “simple trauma healing techniques.” The report suggests that this program was not always successful for various reasons, for example, talking openly with the children was not seen as an appropriate way to communicate. Instead, in the future, traditional coping mechanisms should be encouraged as means of communicating the distressing experiences. Greater collaboration between protection and social services early on in emergency situations is essential in ensuring the well-being of various groups of vulnerable children within the refugee communities, such as children heading households, orphans, and those suffering from malnutrition. The evaluation of the programs highlights some of the problems that relief initiatives faced when trying to cope
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ers to be familiar with these documents. The conventions, protocols, and declarations that were chosen for this compilation are to be read in conjunction with the CRC and its four general principles: nondiscrimination; best interests of the child; participation; and survival and development. The working paper includes, among others, the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War; the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War; Convention relating to the Status of Refugees; UNICEF’s Anti-War Agenda; the General Assembly Resolution on the Rights of the Child (Protection of Children affected by Armed Conflict), and the Commission on Human Rights Resolution on the Rights of the Child. The collection is valuable in presenting the relevant legal and international standards related to children in armed conflicts together in one working paper, and in stressing the interconnectedness of these issues to providing humanitarian assistance. Uppard, S. and Petty, C. (1998). Working with separated children.London: Save the Children UK. This training manual consists of two volumes. The first volume is divided into a number of different modules that focus on various aspects of working with separated children, such as the prevention of separation, emergency tracing, evacuation, interim care, and reunification. Guidelines for best practice are given and practical advice is provided on issues, such as conducting social assessments, information campaigns, documentation, and staff training, among others. The manual also raises important questions about the way in which agencies work with children, for example, how decisions about “the best interest of the child” are made within a rights-based context. Has the child been given sufficient information to participate in decision making according to his or her age and maturity? What cultural differences impact upon the way in which adults and children relate in communities? How can communication with children be improved? The first volume concludes with advice for working with communities and promoting capacity building so that local populations can increase their ability to work with separated children in their own areas. The second volume constitutes a series of training exercises and sample forms that trainers can use when conducting sessions with their own staff or with community members. The exercises list the main learning points to be achieved and give ideas for training activities; and the sample forms provide prototype formats for the type of information that should be collected when working with separated children.
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van der Eyken, W. (1992). Introducing evaluation. The Hague: Bernard van Leer Foundation. This is a practical introduction to the concept of evaluation to people who have never undertaken such a task. It was written for the evaluation of early childhood projects but can be used as a training manual for people involved in other community projects. The manual explains the reasons for why evaluations are undertaken and goes through the various steps involved, such as what is known already about the project, who the evaluation is for, who will participate, and how to decide on the focus of evaluation. Various measures are discussed and examples of successful and unsuccessful approaches to gathering information are given. The manual also presents some guidelines for data analysis and the presentation stage of the final report and concludes with information about further useful resources. This short book is intended for an audience that is completely unfamiliar with the process of evaluation and is therefore inappropriate for people familiar with such undertakings. Its value lies in providing ideas about how to explain the purpose and methods of evaluation in accessible means to staff members who may be reluctant or intimidated by the prospect and through pointing out important aspects that should not be overlooked when undertaking an evaluation. Psychosocial practitioners may find it useful as a resource for conducting introductory training on this issue. van Willingen, L. (Ed.) (2000). Health hazards of organized violence in children (II). Coping and protective factors. Utrecht, Netherlands: Stichting Pharos. This publication consists of contributions by participants of the European consultation on coping and protective factors of children affected by organized violence. Most of the participants are psychologists who address a number of themes in their articles: the interconnectedness between stress and coping and the need for finding a balance between these; strategies and techniques for strengthening protective factors within children, families and communities; the role of social conditions for helping children cope; and the way in which cultural practices do or do not facilitate protective factors in children. Protective factors are understood as being interconnected and located within the context of the child and his or her surroundings. Coping is seen as a process that operates at various system levels and not just within individuals. Some examples of programs are given that show how these theoretical ideas can be put into practice for enhancing the coping resources of war-affected children. Recommendations are made to
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agents in recipient countries and organizations for how they can assist in these efforts. While some of the papers have a heavy academic bias, articles may be of interest to practitioners who seek more information about the relationship between stress and coping and the theoretical foundations for some of the ideas that dominate psychosocial agendas. Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture (1996). Guide to working with young people who are refugees. Parkville, Victoria, Canada: Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture. This training manual is designed to assist those working with young people who are refugees and who may have experienced torture. It is based on several service principles: all work must respect cultural dimensions and be sensitive to the broader context; the relationship between the social, physical, and psychological worlds of the client are important; and the provision of services must be guided by the expressed needs of the clients. The training material presented here can be used in schools, community centers, recreational programs, or other activities with young people. It is divided into several sections, the first of which provides a framework for understanding the impact of torture and distress. The second section focuses on key approaches to intervening with individuals and families, and also addresses the emotional responses of the workers themselves and the implications for practice this may have. The next section discusses group work with young refugees and gives ideas for activities that can be used with them. Outlines for programs conducted with three groups by the foundation are given. These programs aim to help participants rediscover a sense of meaning and continuity in their lives by exploring issues of identity, relationships, and past traumatic experiences.The building of self-esteem and breaking social isolation and alienation are also part of the stated aims of these programs. Each section contains case examples and a detailed bibliography is included in the appendix. Wellard, S. (1997). All together now. Community participation for children and young people. London: Save the Children UK. This book is based on the notion that young people’s sense of being valued or ignored by their communities will powerfully shape their attitudes toward contributing to or standing aside from community life. Despite the range of community activities that children are engaged in (such as sport, leisure and recreational activities, religious and friendship groups), they are not encouraged to participate fully in their communities. Children’s
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experiences in their daily lives have a crucial influence on their confidence to participate, and those disadvantaged by poverty, disability, or discrimination are most likely to lack self-esteem and need support to participate. This report argues that children should be treated as partners in society: they should benefit more equitably from society’s resources; they should be given the fullest consideration in policy making; their views and perspectives should be acknowledged; and they should be encouraged and assisted to play an active part in collective decision making. While this report is oriented toward local authorities in the UK, it is applicable to a variety of situations where policy makers and opinion formers take seriously the idea of children participating in their communities. One particular section explores how children are already participating in various spheres of life. Another section focuses on resistance to giving children and young people more say in decision making and ways of overcoming barriers to taking part in community issues. The emphasis is on devising ways of enabling a sustainable, participative, democratic, and healthy future that involves both adults and young people in joint participation in their communities. Wessells, M. (1999). Culture, power, and community: Intercultural approaches to psychosocial assistance and healing. In K. Nader, N. Dubrow, and B. Stamm (Eds.), Honoring differences. Cultural issues in the treatment of trauma and loss. Philadelphia: Bruner/Mazel. This chapter argues that culture needs to be placed at the center of psychological assistance of all kinds. It aims to shatter the myth that Western psychological concepts and methods can be “taken off the shelf” and used in every cultural context. Instead, considerations of context, culture, power, and community need to guide how psychological interventions are designed and instituted in various situations. For example, local cosmologies, norms, and values may differ significantly from Western ones that influence how life experiences are understood and what means are sought for overcoming them. Local cultural resources in the form of traditions, human resources, community processes, and healing rituals and ceremonies frequently exist in war-affected communities, and humanitarian aid workers need to acquire knowledge of these. The chapter also draws attention to the hidden power dynamics that often operate between foreign and local workers, with tacit assumptions that Western knowledge is in some manner superior to local knowledge. A critical examination of donors’ motives, decision-making processes, and the power asymmetry is necessary in order to prevent local knowledge from being undermined. Finally,
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the chapter provides some practical suggestions for how psychological work can be sensitive to the needs and situation of local people. White, S. (Ed.). (1999). The art of facilitating participation. Releasing the power of grassroots communication . New Delhi: Sage. Authentic participation of local people is an ideal toward which individuals and agencies engaged in development work actively strive. The increasing, overt recognition of the need to involve disadvantaged people in the flow of decision making and action has not always translated easily into practice, and the contributors to this volume seek to address some problems and issues that arise when participatory processes are initiated. The art of facilitation is a central focus of the book, as White believes that communication is the foundation of participation. Accordingly, a facilitator is a true communication professional that must be not only knowledgeable and skilled in communication theory and practice but also be an enabling adult educator who can assist others to become skilled communicators. The chapters in the book are organized into three sections: activation, technique, and community building. Discussions of activation include reflections on the role of advocacy, creativity, and negotiation in community development with contributions from academics and practitioners who recount their own experiences with various projects. Techniques of participatory research are discussed, for example, through the use of mass media such as newspapers and radio. The authors also critically examine conventional perceptions that may lead to researchers feeling like they are losing control of the process and damaging their “professionalism” when engaged in truly participatory research. The final section on community building presents discussions of various models such as the child-to-child model and conflict resolution. Williams, G. and Aloyo Obonyo, C. (2001). Resilience in conflict. A com munity-based approach to psychosocial support in Northern Uganda. Kampala: AVSI, UNICEF. This report describes the psychosocial support program run by AVSI (Associazione Volontari per il Servizio Internazionale), UNICEF, and the local government in Kitgum District in Northern Uganda. The emphasis of the program is on promoting resilience within individuals, families, and communities that have been affected by the conflict and violence in the region. Training is the cornerstone of the project and is aimed at strengthening the capacity of local communities to cope with the psychosocial prob
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lems caused by armed conflict and to provide a protective and supportive environment for children. The program provides community-based care and support through volunteers who have undergone the training and who give moral support, counseling, organize material assistance where possible and collect information regarding attacks and abductions in the district. In addition the volunteers identify individual cases of people or families who find themselves in particularly vulnerable situations and who require additional assistance. An evaluation of the program was carried out and concluded that the project has succeeded in increasing community and individual resilience, acceptance of formerly abducted children, and in helping to strengthen a supportive social environment. The achievements were seen as being due to the basic principles that govern the work, namely partnership, and emphasis on the positive and a focus on relationships. Although this report is short, it is a good example of a successful psychosocial program that is community based and recognizes people as survivors rather than as victims. Williamson, J. and Moser, A. (1987). Unaccompanied children in emergen cies: A guide for their protection and care. Geneva: International Social Services. This document concerns itself with providing psychosocial assistance to children separated from their caregivers. The authors emphasize the importance of being able to identify those children who are showing signs of trauma. This can be done with the help of someone close to the child who will be able to tell whether the actions of the child are culturally appropriate. In working with children, it is necessary to take into account not only the child’s chronological age but also their level of development, their emotional and physical state, and their past experiences. If infants become separated from their family, the priority is to reunite them. If it is not possible to locate the mother, another caregiver needs to be found, preferably one person or a married couple. Children of 3-4 years need to be given a sense of security by creating a consistent daily schedule, returning the child to school or to other community activities; including the child in group play; spending time listening and helping them to talk about past events and providing opportunities for play. For adolescents it may be most appropriate to arrange an independent living situation, involving them as much as possible in decisions or actions taken on their behalf and keeping them informed about what is going on. This needs to be done within the social
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and cultural context of the community and it is therefore important to understand what status the adolescents hold in the community. Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children (2000). Un tapped potential: Adolescents affected by armed conflict. A review of programs and policies. New York: Author. This report focuses on the situation of adolescents, arguing that this group has distinct experiences in armed conflict, distinct needs and distinct capacities that are often overlooked by decision makers and humanitarian agencies who tend to concentrate on younger children. A review was conducted of programs and policies for adolescents uprooted by armed conflict, to determine patterns and practices regarding the health, education, livelihood, protection, and psychological and social needs of this group. Findings indicate that adolescents are at particular risk for recruitment into armed forces, economic exploitation, sexual abuse, contracting sexually transmitted diseases, and have less access to education than younger children. Although they often have to assume adult responsibilities without sufficient support, their opinions are seldom asked and they lack opportunities for gainful employment and a meaningful role in society. The Women’s Commission identifies a number of areas in the lives of adolescents that need to be further investigated to improve assistance provided for them, for example, how displaced adolescents promote their livelihood and how gender equality can be promoted in educational and vocational programs. The needs of war-affected adolescents must be placed concretely on the international agenda and suggestions are made about how this can be achieved. The report also contains an annotated bibliography on refugee, internally displaced, and returnee adolescents that includes relevant literature in the field. Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children (2001). Against all odds: Surviving the war on adolescents. Promoting the protection and ca pacity of Ugandan and Sudanese adolescents in Northern Uganda.New York: Author. This report is a significant and rare example of particiaptory research conducted with young people on the issue of armed conflict and forms part of a series of four studies initiated in different countries by the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children. The principal researchers and principal respondents were Ugandan and Sudanese adolescents in the Acholi region of Northern Uganda. The findings reveal that the insecurity
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of armed conflict, where adolescents are the main targets for murder, abduction, forced recruitment, and sexual enslavement is their top concern. The combination of war, massive displacement, HIV/AIDS, lack of development, and poverty has created widespread misery for the youths who are shouldering enormous responsibilities for themselves, their families, and communities. The report notes that while most abducted adolescents ultimately readjust well to their communities upon return, all struggle with the psychological and emotional effects of their brutal experiences. An increase in domestic and sexual violence is described by adolescents and adults alike and a rise in alcoholism among male adolescents is reported to be occurring in the region. Adolescents expressed a strong desire for participating in community decision making from which they are currently excluded. The youths call for more dialogue with adults in the communities in order to develop greater understanding between the generations. The report provides a powerful insight into the daily concerns of adolescents in Northern Uganda, emphasizing the need for taking their problems as starting points for any form of assistance. Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children (2001). Making the choice for a better life. Promoting the protection and capacity of Kosovo’s youth.New York: Author. The situation of young people in Kosovo forms the focus of this report, as it is noted that international and local actors have failed to consult Kosovo’s youth and include them in decision making and initiatives for reconstruction and development. According to this report, ongoing rights violations committed against and increasingly by young people provide a legacy of conflict for future generations. Research was conducted by adolescents with nearly 300 of their peers and suggests that despite the deep ethnic divisions in the region, young people of different ethnic backgrounds share similar concerns about security, psychosocial recovery, education, and health care. Intolerance and violence remain pervasive in their lives and few opportunities exist for youths to begin discussing the root causes of insecurity. While international donors have contributed an estimated $6 million for programs targeting youth since the end of the war, many initiatives that are critical to issues such as economic development exclude young people from their programs. The report argues that this needs to be corrected and alternatives to violence need to be offered to the youth. Efforts to maximize their participation in all decisions and processes that affect their lives are encouraged. Recommendations are made for how this can be achieved.
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Woodhead, M. (1996). In search of the rainbow. Pathways to quality in large-scale programmes for young disadvantaged children. The Hague: Bernard van Leer Foundation. This report summarizes the findings of an investigation into the environment of the child, aiming to answer the following questions: what is a good environment for children; how can this environment be improved; and what does research have to say about this. The concept of the “environment of the child” was focused on those cultural variables relating to communities and individuals directly affecting the development of children growing up in poverty and able to be reinforced and changed by intervention programs. Four case studies were carried out in India, Venezuela, Kenya, and France. The findings suggest that a contextual approach to quality is necessary for understanding children’s environment. Diversity in early childhood development and early childhood programs is apparent in cultural beliefs and expectations about child rearing practices; in family/ community systems for care and learning; in the availability of material and human resources and in the infrastructure that monitor, support and regulate quality in early childhood. This diversity in practice is not reflected by an equal diversity in theory: theories of child developments and early education offer a relatively narrow vision that originates mainly in Western scientific and pedagogical traditions. It is thus important to continually contextualize as well as debate what constitutes the concept of quality. Taking account of differing perspectives and negotiating a vision of childhood futures is part of the process of improving the quality of children’s environments. The report concludes with a model of quality development that takes account of the diversity evident in practice. World Health Organization (1996). Mental health of refugees. Geneva: Author. This manual, devised jointly by UNHCR and WHO, is intended for people working with displaced people to alert them to the possible mental health needs and problems of this group. Various topics are addressed, for example stress and relaxation, recognizing functional complaints (somatisation) and common mental disorders, helping refugee children, and assisting victims of rape and torture. Each chapter lists the particular learning objectives to be achieved in the section, provides relevant information, gives guidelines and rules for interaction with refugees (for e.g. “how to identify people with chronic psychosis”), and presents actual case examples and quotes of refugees who have experienced the particular issue
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under discussion. The manual focuses predominantly on camp situations. Some of the guidelines given are, however, inappropriate for situations in which many refugees find themselves, for example “a warm sweet drink is good before bedtime.” The advice and guidelines of this book originate from a Western understanding of mental health issues, not taking into account that distress and illness may be conceptualized very differently within other cultures. While it is readable and accessible, its approach is at times reductionistic and excessively simplistic. The section on “how to deal with quacks and dangerous traditional practices,” for example, implicitly assumes that readers of this manual should be able to distinguish between “genuine” healers and “quacks,” and that they have a power to do something about this situation. Some useful tips for how community health workers can be alerted to specific problems can be found in the manual. World Vision International (1996). The effects of armed conflict on girls. Geneva: Author. This report was prepared as part of the UN Study on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children, examining specifically the experiences of girls in armed conflict and the effects it has on them. Five areas were examined in an attempt to determine whether girls suffer more, less, or at least differently from boys. These areas were: their active participation in armed conflict; the particular vulnerabilities they face due to displacement; their health and nutrition; their traditional roles; and the targeting of girls for violence and abuse. Evidence was collected from various World Vision programs working with girls in conflict situations and led the organization to conclude that while there are commonalities in the experiences of boys and girls, girls are affected in different ways than boys by armed conflict. The most significant differences are in the targeting of girls for sexual abuse and rape with the psychological and physical needs this induces, and the lack of reproductive health services to meet even the most basic needs of girls and boys. In other areas the evidence is less clear, and it is suggested that gender-specific research be carried out in order to better identify the particular vulnerabilities of girls and the appropriate responses. Zur, J. (1990). Children’s experience of war: Report on the psychosocial impact of violence on children in Guatemala. UNICEF:65. This study aims to assess the types of trauma experienced by children as a result of political violence that has occurred since the late 1970s in Guatemala. Case studies are presented and recommendations are made for
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other psychosocial programs in Guatemala. When dealing with communities where there is mistrust, envy and divisions exist, it is necessary to carry out programs that minimize tendencies of destroying a sense of community. Programs should enhance the building of community both in terms of actual physical construction and in the creation of a spirit of community. Programs should be available to as many members of the community as possible and not “label” certain groups and thereby marginalize them, for example, widows and orphans. Programs should also be based on activities that relate to cultural values and norms and that respect people’s rejection as well as acceptance of those traditions, values, and norms considered as indigenous. Programs need to be flexible, varied, and sensitive to needs according to aspects such as the particular ethnic group and village with its own particular history as defined by the people themselves. Most important is, however, that there should be a systemic change of the sociopolitical structure in Guatemala so that the violence, oppression, and impunity of communities is stopped. In the absence of such changes, the application of programs that foster the rehabilitation of mental health might have limited and temporary effects as children continue to live in insecure environments with the knowledge that basic human rights are not respected.
Representative terms from entire chapter: