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.
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
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
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
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-
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
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.
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,
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.
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
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
with the Rwandan emergency and makes recommendations for how some of these may be overcome in the future.
Bonati, G. and Hawes, H. (Eds.). (1992). Child-to-child. A resource book. London: Child-to-Child Trust.
The child-to-child approach to health education was introduced in 1978, following the Alma Alta Declaration on Primary Health Care, and focuses on the potential of children to spread health ideas and practices to other children, families, and communities. This manual is divided into three sections: the first consists of activity sheets on various topics, such as nutrition, hygiene, helping the disabled, etc., and provides innovative ideas for how these topics can be introduced to children and what activities they can undertake to pass on the health messages. The second section addresses health education programs with children in general and includes some examples of successful programs as well as discussions about the most appropriate methods for teaching and learning. The third section provides a simple guide to evaluation: addressing not only how to conduct an evaluation but also the reasons, the different levels at which an evaluation can be aimed, and the various audiences to whom feedback is given. Evaluations need to focus on three different phases of a program: the planning stage, the implementation stage, and the outcome phase. The manual stresses the importance of making evaluation activities participatory rather than having “experts” conducting evaluations on communities. Finally, four examples of evaluations are given, accompanied by suggestions for what activities can be employed.
This very practical manual includes good suggestions for community-based health education programs with children and ideas for how evaluation can be made accessible to community members.
Boothby, N. (1990). Working in the war zone: A look at psychological theory and practice from the field. Mind and Interaction, 2(2), 30-36.
Boothby discusses psychological methods used in working with children exposed to traumatic events. He gives examples of typical approaches that involve one-to-one interviews, projective drawing, and story telling to help the child relive the traumatic experience and try to gain a measure of control over the event. Group sessions may involve large numbers of children exposed to the same traumatic event and make use of activities that encourage free expression and facilitate trauma resolution. The aim of such approaches is to restore the affected children to a pretrauma level of func
tioning through structured opportunities to better understand and express their fears. The author suggests, however, that for war-affected children this is insufficient. Instead, one needs to create a positive reality for the child through broader assistance efforts that help to support or reestablish the child’s primary relationships to parents, families, and communities. To do so it may be necessary to help families and communities understand how their own emotions, attitudes, and actions are often directly linked to children’s responses to danger. Interventions should be culturally appropriate in order to help children process their experiences and feelings in a positive way. While working with demobilized child soldiers, the author stresses the importance of establishing routines and daily structures that help the children integrate into civilian life. More than psychological treatment the children needed to be forgiven by society. Efforts should be concentrated on the community level in order to help community members understand that the children were victims as well as perpetrators.
Boothby, N. (1996). Children of war; survival as a collective act. Pp. 136-149 in M. McCallin (Ed.), The psychological well-being of refugee children: Research, practice and policy issues. Geneva: International Catholic Child Bureau.
This chapter focuses on the reintegration of demobilized underage soldiers in Mozambique. The author describes the experiences of the children and discusses salient issues such as the length of time spent in military camps and the process of adjustment the boys underwent upon family reunification. The recuperative potential of children is emphasized as many of the children had strengths and similarities that far outweighed their weaknesses and difficulties. Even those who had undergone the worst possible circumstances managed longer periods of competent behavior, good humor, and optimism. In Mozambique, survival is a collective act, rooted in community compassion and care. In endangered zones extended families and neighbors employed a number of collective measures to try and protect their children from military groups. These responses ranged from guiding children together in forests or caves at night, to caring for one another’s children while primary caregivers are away, and fleeing together to safer districts. An awareness of these collective survival strategies as well as of children’s potential adaptability under stress and protective factors has implications for assistance programs. One of these is that the major thrust of primary mental health care initiatives should be directed toward the source of the children’s resilience rather than toward the individual child. Provid
ing material assistance can aid vulnerable families in their own efforts to support themselves and keep the family unified.
Boothby, N. (1996). Mobilizing communities to meet the psychosocial needs of children in war and refugee crises. Pp. 149-164 in R. Apfel and B. Simon (Eds.), Minefields in their hearts: The mental health of children in war and communal violence. New Haven: Yale University Press.
The author argues that a primary mental health approach may be the most effective way of mounting sustainable responses to the social and psychological needs of children and their families. A number of innovative mental health initiatives have been developed to mobilize communities to respond to large numbers of war-affected children in cost-effective ways. One of these is community-based programs that utilize paraprofessionals, relief workers, social workers, teachers, nurses, or clerics who provide services through community agencies, religious groups, or international nongovernmental organizations. These people and organizations assist in reestablishing social support networks, enhance parental coping skills, respond to the needs of especially vulnerable groups, mobilize public awareness, and organize self-help groups of women and single parents. Another example is programs that integrate a psychosocial component into broad-based economic development and employment initiatives, housing and agricultural programs, and education. Examples of community-managed programs are given where residents of a local area identify their own problems, select their own project workers, evaluate their programs, and make their own decisions about the program’s future. These participatory intervention types were successfully used in Guatemala and Mozambique, demonstrating how assistance programs need to be adapted to local realities.
Boyden, J. (1994). Children’s experience of conflict related emergencies: Some implications for relief policy and practice. Disasters,18(3), 254-267.
This paper challenges the limited models of childhood, conflict, and relief that determine most humanitarian interventions targeting children in conflict-related emergencies. In particular, it notes the tendency of relief programs to focus on “spectacular” groups of children, such as orphans, child combatants, etc., at the expense of larger child populations indirectly affected by conflict. The focus on the spectacular or pathological detracts from understandings of how children engage with organized violence in a wider sense. This relief bias is attributed to an inappropriate “apocalypse” model of conflict that sees relief interventions only as repair. The bias also
lies in a mistakenly universalist model of childhood and a medical paradigm that pathologizes children’s experience in conflict and characterizes children as passive victims rather than as active survivors. The paper argues for greater recognition of the wider social experience of children in conflict and for relief practice that takes account of childhood resilience and children’s different roles and capacities in coping with conflict. The author concludes that appropriate interventions must engage with the wide variety of indigenous coping mechanisms involving children and not simply replicate a standard package of relief interventions in every emergency, based on simplistic and universalist interpretations of children’s experience of conflict.
Boyden, J. (2000). Social healing in war-affected and displaced children. Available online at: <http://www.rsc.ox.ac.uk/casocialhealing.html>.
This paper provides a critical perspective on the current debates in the field of the protection of children affected by war. Policies relating to children are commonly influenced, directly or indirectly, by two strands of thought. The first concerns the nature of children—childhood and child development as conceptualized by scholars in the West. In this perspective children are seen as vulnerable—passive and dependent—and should therefore be protected from work, hardship, and misfortune. Psychologists such as Piaget have popularized the notion that child development is governed by universal psychological and biological processes irrespective of culture, context, and social class. The second strand of influential thought is the emphasis placed on the psychosocial consequences of war and adversity on children, frequently based on psychiatric categories, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. The author argues that childhood is diverse and that assertions of universality have their limits, as different communities value different goals and skills in childhood development. This may also have implications for issues of vulnerability and resilience among children who may have substantial coping resources of their own to deal with adversity. Suffering, loss, and healing are all experienced within a context and knowledge of this context is central to understanding the meanings attached to these experiences.
Boyden, J. and Ennew, J. (1997). Children in focus—A manual for partici patory research with children. Stockholm: Radda Barnen.
This manual is intended for people planning to conduct research with children or training others as facilitators and researchers for those purposes.
It covers a number of core issues and principles that are essential for good practice in research with children, for instance, the notion of treating children as active participants in the research process as opposed to beneficiaries or passive respondents. Ethical concerns when working with children are discussed, as well as commonly held conceptions of childhood in the West as representing a time of dependence and innocence. The authors question these assumptions critically, pointing out that the way in which childhood is constructed and experienced differs according to culture, wealth, gender, and ethnic group. The manual examines traditional research approaches and suggests alternatives to survey questionnaires, a frequently used method. Ways in which participatory methods can be employed to yield more insight and better quality data are explored and a number of different research methods are presented. Simple exercises are included that break down some of the “mystery” of doing research. The ideas given for how these methods can be used in classroom and fieldwork situations are practical and have all been tested in the field. This highly readable and accessible manual can be used both for planning participatory research and for training researchers in approaches that take children’s voices as a starting point. Its strength lies in challenging established perceptions of childhood and proposing a change in the approach and contact with children when conducting research.
Boyden, J. and Gibbs, S. (1997). Children of war. Responses to psychosocial distress in Cambodia. Geneva: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.
This study presents a critique of the dominant perspectives on psychosocial distress in children. It examines the relationship between conflict and psychosocial distress in the Cambodian context, focusing on local understandings of the consequences of conflict and violence, as well as on indigenous coping and healing strategies. The importance of factors that mediate vulnerability and resilience in this context, such as socioeconomic conditions, cultural values, family circumstances, and an individual’s characteristics, are discussed. The authors argue that it is vital to have knowledge of the local culture if appropriate assistance is to be provided for the alleviation of distress. They also point out that international agencies often devise interventions without taking into account these indigenous understandings. Such interventions run the risk not only of failing to achieve their objectives but may also cause harm to the people they seek to assist by undermining the local coping strategies. Similarly, a narrow focus on men
tal health interventions based on a biomedical model may not meet the needs of Cambodians who prefer to make use of traditional healers who provide spiritual, emotional, social, and physical care for their patients. The identification of certain groups of the population as particularly vulnerable is also critically discussed as these categories do not neccessarily fit Cambodian classifications of vulnerability. The study suggests that careful monitoring and evaluation of the impact of aid in countries such as Cambodia is needed in regard to psychosocial interventions as the validity of Western therapeutic models is increasingly becoming doubtful.
Boyden, J. and Mann, G. (2000). Consultation on children in adversity. Background paper to the Consultation on Children in Adversity, Oxford.
This background paper on children in adversity raises critical questions about the conceptualizations of problems and their solutions in regard to children’s development and their relative capacities and vulnerabilities. Adult ideas about child protection, for example, or assumptions about family as the most effective institution of childcare or schooling being preferable to working, have led to many inappropriate interventions for children. In addition, the recent trend to categorize children into specific groups based on the most visible feature of their life circumstances, for instance, homelessness, sexually exploited children, institutionalized children, etc., has been problematic in some instances as the focus on only one feature of their lives detracts from the fact that most children are fully integrated into community and family life and may be resilient in the face of adversity. The paper explores dominant approaches to interventions with different groups of children, pointing out that the empowerment of children has frequently not formed part of the agenda of practitioners. The literature on risk and resilience is reviewed, as well as the limitations of existing research evidence. The complex interaction of factors that influences how children are affected by adversity is noted and attention is drawn to the problematic reductionism of the “trauma” discourse. Individuals engage with misfortune not as isolated beings but in socially mediated ways that are shared. Children need to be recognized as social agents with the capacity to influence their situation and should have substantially more opportunities to participate in policy and action than they do currently.
Bracken, P. J. and Petty, C. (Eds.). (1998). Rethinking the trauma of war. London: Free Association Books.
This edited book has been influential in critical thinking on the debate
around trauma and traumatization. It reflects critically on the theoretical and practical aspects of psychosocial and trauma projects and the social, political, and cultural contexts in which they take place. Bracken and Petty note that Western agencies increasingly perceive such programs as useful ways of providing assistance to war-affected populations, adopting a discourse on trauma that revolves around the concept of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and using counseling and psychotherapeutic techniques as intervention methods. These projects are, however, at times implemented without regard for the needs and wishes of the people they seek to assist. The Western concepts and methods may also be alien to local populations who have different ways of understanding suffering and distress. In addition, the imposition of a trauma framework may cause harm by first undermining local coping strategies and second by detracting funding away from much needed social and economic projects. The book therefore argues that humanitarian agencies need to substantially “rethink” their responses to the distress of war. The series of chapters challenges the readers to reflect on a range of topics, such as the nature of warfare in the modern world, sexual violence and the international community’s responses to it, and problems presented by institutional care for separated children. Of particular interest are a chapter on community involvement in the social reintegration of child soldiers by Margaret McCallin and the chapter on the perspectives and experiences of youth combatants in Sierra Leone by Krijn Peters and Paul Richards.
Brett, R. and McCallin, M. (1996). Children: The invisible soldiers. Stockholm: Radda Barnen.
This book was commissioned by the UN Study on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children (the Machel Report) and presents an overview of the issues affecting children who become active participants in armed conflicts or who have been recruited into armed forces. It is based on eleven in-depth case studies of countries where children are known to be involved in situations of war and political violence and provides information about the causes and consequences of their participation in these situations. A global overview of the situation is given and followed by a discussion of various types of recruitment. While many reasons exist for why children participate in armed conflict, the authors point out that the majority of the children are from the poorest and most marginalized sectors of society where they have no access to education or a reasonable standard of living. The study describes the treatment that children experience as soldiers and fo
cuses on the factors that influence successful strategies of demobilization, rehabilitation, and social reintegration once the children leave the armed forces. The authors stress the need for long-term, community-based approaches that place emphasis on promoting collective coping mechanisms rather than on specific needs of individuals. The title of the study suggests that children involved in armed conflict are often overlooked or forgotten as their needs are frequently ignored both during and after violent conflict. Recommendations are made about possible strategies that prevent the recruitment of underage soldiers, as well as how the process of reintegration into their communities can be facilitated by government and humanitarian agencies.
Cairns, E. (1996). Children and political violence. Oxford: Blackwell.
This book is an important resource for professionals seeking information about children and political violence. It aims to make the research in this area accessible to a wider audience in order to question some of the assumptions frequently made by lay people and researchers in the field. It reviews a range of topics, such as stress and coping, the direct and indirect effects of violence on a child’s environment, and the role of children as political activists. The author stresses that research on these issues is at times limited or inconclusive and may be based on unquestioned notions about the nature of childhood and violence. For example, it is often assumed that Western notions of childhood and development are universal and therefore applicable regardless of context and culture. Similarly, the literature on children and violence sometimes mistakenly suggests that all situations of armed conflict are exclusively harmful for children and lead to traumatization, when the reality is far more complex and varied. The book also reviews the research conducted on the impact of political violence on levels of aggression, moral development, and the political socialization of children, debunking some of the “myths” of exposure to violence inevitably leading to higher levels of violence. The effects of violence on the social fabrics of children’s lives and the challenge of ensuring that the next generation grows up to reject violence as a way of settling disputes are also discussed. The author brings together information from disparate sources and makes use of many real-life examples in his critical evaluation of these issues, thereby providing a comprehensive overview that will be of interest to researchers and practitioners in psychology, education, and peace studies, among others.
Carpenter, R.C. (2000). Assessing and addressing the needs of children born of forced maternity. Paper presented at the International Conference on War-Affected Children, Winnipeg.
This study is a unique contribution on a topic that has received little attention and about which little is known. Several thousands of children have been born through forced pregnancy in the aftermath of the Bosnian, Rwandan, and earlier Bangladeshi genocides, as rape and forced maternity are used as a strategies of ethnic cleansing and warfare. Children born as a result of forced pregnancy are more likely to suffer infanticide, stigma, neglect, and discrimination. No policies exist, however, on how to assist these children and their parents. This paper presents an analysis of the war-rape orphan’s situation, the barriers to realization of his or her rights, and advocates for the establishment of fact-finding missions to assess the needs and status of such children. One barrier to the promotion of these children’s rights is the inadequacy of existing international law where they often fall “through the gaps” of various conventions. In addition, resource mobilization and norm-building campaigns that stop the rejection and stigmatization of rape-children must be undertaken by agencies. The paper argues that the agendas of criminalizing forced maternity and advancing children’s rights need to be merged, pointing out that when this issue is only conceptualized as a women’s issue and the debate is focused on the single issue of abortion, the rights of these children are frequently ignored. The complex issue of how to articulate the rights of these children without endangering reproductive rights is a challenge to the international community.
Chambers, R. (1997). Whose reality counts? Putting the last first.London: Intermediate Technology.
This book was written for development professionals by one of the leading proponents of participatory rural/rapid appraisal (PRA) methods. It presents a convincing argument for why development workers need to take the realities of the people they work with as the starting point for their interactions and interventions and should develop new approaches and methods for understanding these realities. PRA involves methods that enable local people to share and analyze their knowledge of life and conditions, and to plan, act, monitor, and evaluate. Its extensive and growing menu of methods include visuals such as mapping and diagramming and presents an alternative to more traditional methods such as questionnaire surveys and structured interviews. The basic principle of PRA is that outsiders do not dominate and impose their own theoretical models on local
people but instead “hand over the stick” to them where local people become analysts, planners, and actors themselves. Special attention is paid to marginalized groups, such as ethnic minorities, poorer people, the disabled, or the elderly as they may not be able to fully participate in public PRA exercises. The attitude and behavior of the researchers are vital and the book stresses the need for relaxed participation marked by respect and transparent honesty. The practical applications of PRA have proliferated in areas, such as health, nutrition, poverty, and livelihood programs and urban contexts. Its relevance to psychosocial issues has not been tested sufficiently, yet the approach to taking people’s realities and perspectives seriously and the flexible and experimental methods used for evaluating the impact of programs may be useful to practitioners who seek more participatory ways of research and interaction.
Christensen, P. and James, A. (Eds.). (2000). Research with children. London: Falmer Press.
This book investigates some of the methodological questions that arise when conducting research with children. This is important because researchers are only now beginning to address the implications of treating children as social actors in their own right in contexts where they have traditionally been denied those rights of participation and their voices have remained unheard. Although the book is not a “cookbook” on how best to conduct research with children, it gives some practical guidance and many insightful lessons. The authors argue that doing research with children does not necessarily imply adopting different or particular methods as long as certain issues are taken into account. The first of these pertains to seeing children as subjects rather than as objects of the research and recognizing that children not only provide information about aspects of their lives but also reflect on the research process and have contributions to make on that level. The second issue is that it is important to take account of the context within which communication takes place as this shapes the nature and outcome of research. The differential power between adults and children can be worked with through careful design of the research and sensitivity to ensure that children’s own views are incorporated. The book also addresses itself to how children can become involved as researchers and the kind of methods that young researchers use. This book provides an overview of pertinent issues involved in conducting research with children and is a useful resource for practitioners who seek to devise training plans for taking seriously the participation of children in research.
Cohn, I. and Goodwin-Gill, G. (1994). Child soldiers. The role of children in armed conflict. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
This book was one of the earliest systematic studies of the issue of child soldiers and has remained an important resource in the field. The focus is on the recruitment and participation of children as soldiers in armed conflict and on measures to reduce and eliminate these practices. The introduction contains a discussion of the definition of a “child” and points to the discrepancies between legal definitions that allow children to participate in military activities from a young age but forbids them to vote until they are 18. A large part of the book concentrates on international law and various mechanisms to counter the ongoing participation of children in situations of armed conflict. Relevant chapters to psychosocial practitioners are those dealing with the reasons for why children participate in armed conflict, including issues such as developmental processes, the role of ideology, religion, peer pressure, and the militarization of daily life, and a chapter on conditions and consequences of participation. The latter chapter describes the training of child soldiers, the tasks they may be assigned, and the “positive” aspects of participation for children. Short-term and long-term consequences to physical and mental health are discussed, as well as the loss of opportunities for educational and vocational development. The authors note that for many children in poor, war-torn countries joining an armed group sometimes appears to be the best alternative and that campaigns to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers need to take this bigger context into account if realistic alternatives are to be provided for groups who are at risk.
Connor, A. (1993). Monitoring and evaluation made easy. A handbook for voluntary organizations. Edinburgh: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.
This book was written for voluntary organizations who want to evaluate their activities in order to improve the services they provide to users, demonstrate the achievements of their activities, engage in long-term planning, or aim to identify problems early on in order to address them before they become serious. The examples in the book are drawn from fieldwork with organizations providing direct social care services. The issues include planning for monitoring and evaluation, establishing how people use the service (scale and pattern of use), identifying changes in outcomes for users, obtaining feedback from users, and checking the feasibility of new services. Attention is also paid to the type of information that many funders want organizations to provide. Practical advice on how to analyze data and how
to present it are also given. The book concludes with some hints for making monitoring and evaluation easier for managers and project staff.
Cracknell, B.E. (2000). Evaluating development aid. Issues, problems, and solutions. New Delhi: Sage.
This book focuses on the key issues in the theory and practice of evaluation of development assistance. Several aspects are central to conducting evaluations, for instance, attention to the project cycle management that needs to include clearly stated objectives at the outset and the sustainability of projects beyond the provision of assistance. The slogan “sustainable benefits to target groups” is now seen as one of the keys to effective project cycle management and the emphasis is on “building in” sustainability as a key element of all project and program funding. The author also discusses the organizational dynamics and processes by which organizations learn, as an evaluation report alone does not mark the end of the evaluation process but can instead be seen as the beginning. Most evaluations are meant to result directly in improved performance and unless there is effective feedback the whole process may end up as cosmetic rather than as effectual. Feedback has up to now been the least discussed topic in evaluation but is one of the most important. The book also covers practical aspects such as how evaluation results feed into management information systems; the importance of impact evaluation; the special problems associated with the evaluation of the activities of nongovernmental organizations; and the evaluation of such aspects of gender, environment, and good governance. Some new trends in evaluation methodology are discussed, especially the concept of the evaluator as a facilitator, mediator, and negotiator.
Dagnino, N. (1996). Responding to the psychosocial needs of refugee children: A multi-faceted approach. Pp. 150-167 in M. McCallin (Ed.), The psychological well-being of refugee children: Research, practice, and policy issues. Geneva: International Catholic Child Bureau.
Central to the approach described in this chapter is the notion of play: play promotes the harmonious development of children’s bodies, minds and emotions, and is the driving program behind Enfants Refugies du Monde’s programs with refugee children. The author describes a program conducted by the organization in Guatemala. Play activities are integrated into different aspects of communal life wherever children are, for example, the feeding center, workshops, school, and the clinic. Animators are trained in organizing play activities for children and the children also engage in
specific activities that allow self-expression, such as drawing, growing vegetable gardens, and story telling. Training workshops for nonprofessional local personnel who had been identified as leaders in the community were held that focused on creative techniques requiring participation by all and stimulated the propensity to play and create.
Dawes, A. (1992). The management of children exposed to political violence. The Problem of Large Numbers and Limited Resources,31.
This paper attempts to address the problems associated with providing psychological assistance to large numbers of children affected by political violence in a context that has few professional resources. The author suggests that because of limited resources there is a need to focus on preventive strategies. Intervention must be based on a good understanding of what the community considers to be necessary for the care of children in specific circumstances. The most important aspect is to strengthen family, kinship, and neighborhood ties in ways that are culturally appropriate. Being reunited with their closest kin is also crucial for children. Refugee settings and camps should therefore seek to provide common areas where families and their neighbors from home can live in close proximity, allowing those children who are separated from their immediate family to reside with others that they know. The normalization of the daily routine and the reestablishment of school-like structures are also crucial. Withdrawn children can be helped through a variety of methods that are culturally acceptable. Pre-adolescent children can be assisted by being allowed to come to terms with their fear and the horrors they have experienced through play, artwork, and puppetry. These techniques have been used with Mozambican children. This form of play therapy can be incorporated in the “normal” school day rather than being isolated as a “therapy session.”
Dawes, A. and Cairns, E. (1998). The Machel report: Dilemmas of cultural sensitivity and universal rights of children. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology,4(4), 335-348.
This article is a response to the 1996 Machel Report on the impact of war on children, specifically how its suggestions for interventions may be put into practice by psychological professionals. The authors point out that much of the psychological literature on children and war views issues through Western lenses that emphasize children’s passivity and their “pathological” responses to distressing events. Talk of “lost generations” of war-
affected youth often leads to the further marginalization and reinforcement of stereotypes of young people. Issues of resilience and coping are frequently ignored. The authors examine how relations between “foreign” and “local” actors are played out when psychosocial assistance is provided and give examples of how Western approaches may be perceived by war-affected populations. All mental health interventions involve the negotiation of the problems to be addressed, a process to which cultural beliefs and practices are central. Conflict may arise between local and foreign people over how service delivery is undertaken. Suggestions are made for how psychosocial assistance can be provided in such a manner that does not further exacerbate the asymmetrical power relations between local and foreign systems. A primary health care strategy is seen as an effective means of giving preventive, holistic, and dynamic assistance to children.
Dawes, A. and Donald, D. (2000). Improving children’s chances. Developmental theory and effective interventions in community contexts. Pp. 1-25 in Addressing childhood adversity. Cape Town, South Africa: David Phillip.
The central argument of this chapter is that the design and effectiveness of psychosocial interventions with children and adolescents will be enhanced if they are underpinned by theory and research. While this may be an obvious point, it often seems as if practitioners and researchers work in different worlds, neglecting to engage in dialogue with one another. Equally important is an understanding of the contexts of children’s lives and insight into how these contexts influence their physical and mental development. This chapter summarizes psychological knowledge in relation to children’s development, their emerging psychological capacities, and the influences of school and neighborhood on these processes. The role of cultural practices and growing up in poverty environments are considered, for example in relation to how adult practices toward children may differ. Protective factors on the individual, family, and community level are discussed and ways in which they can be enhanced through interventions are described. Key principles of intervention are presented, for instance, interventions should operate at multiple levels in order to effectively address a problem that has a variety of sources within a child’s environment. A further recommendation is that interventions should be based on local knowledge, values and practice, promoting community participation in order to ensure local relevance and sustainability of programs.
Dawes, A. and Honwana, A. (1996). Children, culture and mental health. Interventions in conditions of war.Conference on Children, War and Persecution, Rebuilding Hope, Maputo, Mozambique.
This paper addresses the tensions that exist between insider and outsider ideologies in providing mental health assistance to child survivors of political violence. Insider ideologies include knowledge systems and practices related to children and mental health held by a community, and outsider ideologies refer to those held by people from other ideological communities. Opportunities and dangers exist when the survivor community and the expert systems of the aid community engage with one another. Some of the potential tensions are the differences in the cultural bases of children’s health, illness and healing; differences in power to determine what is correct psychological needed and practice; and problems of acculturation and cultural essentialism in the training of local health workers. The meanings attached to childhood may differ in various contexts, as constructions of what it means to be a child are culturally and socially constructed. The authors consider some ways through this “minefield” of tensions and conclude that a complementary relationship between local and outsider systems needs to be established. No system has the monopoly on helping children deal with war and no system is static. Those seeking to assist children should avoid trying to impose universal solutions as well as “essentializing” the particular cultural views and practices of certain groups as the more accurate version. A primary health care approach that is culturally sensitive is advocated as one possible way forward in solving the dilemmas presented here.
De Jong, J.T.V.M. and Hermanns, J.M.A. (1999). The psychological impact of war and the refugee situation on South Sudanese children in refugee camps in Northern Uganda: An exploratory study. Journal of Child Psychol ogy and Psychiatry,40(4), 529-536.
This paper presents the results of an exploratory study on the psychosocial effects of the war situation and subsequent flight of South Sudanese children who were compared to a group of Ugandan children who did not have these experiences of war and displacement. A number of psychometric questionnaires and scales were used to assess the children on factors such as sociodemographic characteristics (years of flight, numbers of children in the family, etc.); traumatizing experiences of the children; daily problems in the refugee situation; coping strategies; social support and mental health. The results indicate that the Sudanese children reported more traumatic
events, more daily stressors, less satisfying social support, more different ways of coping, and more psychological complaints than the Ugandan comparison group. The children had lost a significant part of their social network by fleeing from their place of origin and their parents may also have been traumatized by war and may be less capable of giving support. It was also clear from the study that the Sudanese children used more coping strategies than their Ugandan counterparts with strategies such as distraction, wishful thinking, and praying being common.
Demusz, K. (2000). Listening to the displaced. Action research in the conflict zones of Sri Lanka. Oxford: Oxfam.
This working paper reports on a research project conducted by Oxfam in Sri Lanka on an annual basis. The “Listening to the Displaced” project aims to enable national authorities and the international community to hear the voices of people displaced by the conflict in the North of the country. The methodology used in this study can be implemented by humanitarian agencies at various stages of their work: for assessment of needs, for evaluation, or for advocacy. The crucial aspect of the approach is, however, that it cannot be carried out as a “once-off” piece of data collection but is intended as action research from which results will be used to effect change. The different phases of implementing the approach are described in detail, for instance, the “early days” that involve the use of semistructured interviews and focus groups to identify key focus areas. The next stage consists of putting together research teams of both participants and agency staff and training them in appropriate research approaches. The actual research is conducted by doing a community overview, brainstorming exercises, group prioritization, and small-group work. In a plenary session all groups present and discuss their findings. Examples of key questions are given, centered around present and past problem-solving skills and resources at community, household, and personal levels. The report includes a discussion of things to be considered when researching displacement, such as gender and women’s voices, choosing the participants, consent, sampling methods, and bias. The analysis and presentation of research findings is a crucial issue. The report concludes with a reflection on lessons learned in the project.
Desjarlais, R., Eisenberg, L., Good, B., and Kleinman, A. (1995). World mental health report. Problems and priorities in low-income countries. New York: Oxford University Press.
The mental health report contains a chapter on dislocation, which provides a general overview of the factors that contribute to psychological distress among forced migrants. The three phases common to refugee experience and the difficulties associated with each are discussed: the preflight period, the flight itself, and the reception period that may involve exile such as living in a camp or resettlement in another country. The report suggests that all three phases are stressful because violence, economic hardship, separation from loved ones, and discrimination may be present in all of them. Certain groups of refugees are identified as being particularly vulnerable, namely women, children, and the elderly. Refugees may also be vulnerable to behavioral health problems such as alcoholism and drug abuse. There are usually very few mental health resources available to refugees, as this is an area that has only recently attracted the attention of the international aid community. Various options for providing assistance to address the mental health needs of refugees are discussed, including more traditional psychiatric approaches as well as community-based interventions. The report concludes with a number of recommendations regarding the need for preventive approaches to addressing mental health and the participation of refugee communities in planning the types of assistance provided. The chapter is a summary of some of the issues affecting the psychological well-being of forced migrants and provides insight for people who may not be familiar with the various issues involved in this aspect of the refugee experience.
Diaz, M. (1997). Children uprooted by war: Angola and Sierra Leone. Refugee Participation Network,24, 9-11.
The Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children undertook assessment missions to Angola and Sierra Leone in order to investigate the conditions facing war-displaced communities and the prospects for rebuilding communities in the wake of the signed peace accords. In Angola an organization called the Christian Children’s Fund (CCF) has been running workshops with adults who are directly involved in children’s lives to help them gain greater understanding of children’s needs. CCF is also involved with the demobilization of child soldiers and has made a concerted effort to engage communities in this process. In Sierra Leone the mission found that humanitarian aid was only reaching those people who had managed to flee to the urban areas but that no assistance was available to those who were in the bush. Girls and women have suffered sexual violence at the hands of rebel troops and government soldiers and many were forced to
work as domestic or sex slaves. The recruitment and kidnapping of children has been an issue of concern in both countries where children as young as nine have been abducted or recruited.
Dona, G. and Beristain, C. (1998). Psychology in humanitarian assistance. London: University of East London, Anthropology Department.
This book addresses the psychological dimensions and approaches to humanitarian work. The authors argue that humanitarian interventions have deep psychosocial implications and that it is crucial for humanitarian aid workers to be aware of these. The main aim of this book is to help humanitarian aid workers understand how people in emergency situations live, interpret, and respond to the circumstances in which they find themselves. Victims of violent conflict make sense of their experience by relying on familiar interpretations learned through enculturation and socialization that are also used during normal life. Humanitarian interventions do not take place in a vacuum but in situations in which relationships between givers and recipients are affected by the history and the social network. A second aim of this book is to improve understanding of the psychological and social implications of providing humanitarian assistance. The authors suggest that humanitarian assistance should address psychological issues from the outset, and a failure to do so can lead to a failure of the implemented actions or to a lack of understanding of the affected population’s experience. The advantages of adopting an approach that incorporates psychological dimensions are that it enhances understanding; helps develop action plans and problem-prevention plans; and helps to attain a holistic conception of humanitarian activity that is mindful of the physical, psychological and social needs of the community. Specific topics addressed in this book are transcultural interactions, the experiences of aid workers and how they deal with stress and moral dilemmas, and different types of psychosocial interventions. The overview of psychological issues in humanitarian aid is useful for practitioners who seek to incorporate or be mindful of the intended and unintended psychosocial issues in their work.
Dybdahl, R. (2001). Children and mothers in war: An outcome study of a psychosocial intervention program. Child Development,72(4), 1214-1230.
This article reports the findings of an evaluation of the effects of a psychosocial intervention program on children in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The program consisted of weekly group meeting for mothers of five and six year olds for a period of five months. Displaced mothers and their children
were randomly assigned to an intervention group or to a control group and information was gathered about war exposure, mental health, social support, psychosocial functioning, intellectual abilities, and physical health before and after the intervention. A range of measurements were used to gather this information, such as the Impact of Events Scale, rating scales of the children’s problems, the Raven’s Test for cognitive development, and Birleson’s Depression Inventory. The results of the pre- and posttest indicate that the problem scores of the intervention group were reduced and positive characteristics scores increased more than the control group on some measures. The positive effects of the program could be seen in reduction of children’s problems as rated by an independent interviewer, children’s weight gain, mother’s reduction of trauma symptoms, and mother’s increased life satisfaction. The children in the intervention group were rated as more intelligent and active by the mothers than in the control group and as happier, less restless, less distractable, and less clingy by the interviewer. Other measurements did not indicate a significant difference between the two groups. The cultural relevance of some of the measurements used in this study has to be questioned. In addition, questions regarding the reason for the positive changes can only be speculated on, for example, the theory that the mothers’ reduction in symptoms results in them becoming more able to help their children, thereby leading to a reduction in the children’s symptoms. As a rare example of a pre- and posttest evaluation of psychosocial programming this article provides some ideas for evaluation designs.
Evans, J. (1996). Children as zones of peace: Working with young children affected by armed conflict. Harvard,29.
This paper begins with a general overview of the way in which violent conflict affects the lives of young children in different parts of the world. The author then continues to discuss how factors, such as the nature, duration, and intensity of the event, and the child’s age and personal characteristics affect how he or she responds to and copes with the events. The role of sociocultural factors is mentioned. The development of appropriate interventions needs to correspond to the evolution or progression of the particular emergency, and the three stages outlined by UNICEF (loud, transition, rehabilitation/reconstruction) are described. Principles for working with children in these situations are outlined, for example, supporting essential relationship and primary caregivers, providing holistic and integrated services, and establishing educational activities. Community approaches are seen as most effective means of providing support and when children
are already taking positive actions, their lead should be followed. Training and support need to be given to those working with children and resources should be maximized. The paper then discusses programming guidelines for early childhood in some detail, listing a series of questions to be answered when making decisions about interventions. Finally, specific activities for young children are described as well as the underlying reasons for implementing them.
Fajerman, L., Jarrett, M., and Sutton, F. (2000). Children as partners in planning. A training resource to support consultation with children. London: Save the Children, UK.
This publication is aimed at practitioners, managers, training officers, and development and partnership officers who work with children between birth and age 11 in early years’ centers and out-of-school clubs. It lays the foundation for consulting children about their experiences and preferences and gives practitioners an opportunity to find out about the Convention on the Rights of the Child and to develop strategies for listening to children and taking their views into account when planning activities and services. While the manual is primarily based on work conducted by Save the Children in Britain, the ideas can be used in many different settings as it is based on the premise that adults are facilitators of children’s learning and development. Taking children’s views seriously can provide the foundation for enabling children to make decisions and develop independence. The pack consists of three different training workshops of different lengths that cover a range of issues, such as children’s rights, children’s participation, and the sharing of experiences and ideas. Case studies are based on real-life projects and can be used to support the training exercises in the book and activities with children are suggested.
Farwell, N. (2001). Onward through strength: Coping and psychological support among refugee youth returning to Eritrea from Sudan. Journal of Refugee Studies, 14(1), 43-69.
This paper examines coping strategies and sources of psychological support utilized by Eritrean refugee youth who returned to their homeland from exile in Sudan. The author interviewed the adolescents about their experiences of war and the variety of types and levels of coping resources that they drew on to overcome the difficulties they face. Themes that emerged from the responses include inner strength, separation and loss, community solidarity, concerns about subsistence, the importance of edu
cation, and the desire for a peaceful future. The youths counted families, elders, community solidarity, and combatants among important sources of psychological support. The protection, encouragement, and example provided by these people helped sustain the youth through the most difficult war events in Eritrea, and the collective support and mutual assistance was essential for survival. Asked for recommendations of types of psychosocial interventions they would like to receive during reintegration, the adolescents mentioned guidance and support, organized youth activities, continuity of education, mentored economic development, and community-building activities as important components of such programs. Although the research for this article was conducted in a specific geographical area, Eritrea, the findings first give valuable insight into the kinds of coping resources the adolescents drew on to help them cope, and second can be modified to fit other circumstances where youths are faced with similar tasks of rebuilding their lives on return to their home countries. The results show that the Eritrean youths were focused on their future, desiring to further their education and assist their families, and the facilitation of such initiatives should form part of the goal of psychosocial interventions.
Feuerstein, M.-T. (1986). Partners in evaluation. Evaluating development and community programmes with participants. London: MacMillan.
This book is written for development workers who seek to evaluate or monitor their own work but find available evaluation approaches too costly, complex, or inappropriate to the real conditions under which they work. It contains a flow chart for making decisions about how to implement an evaluation in a participatory way and the importance of identifying evaluation objectives. Planning and organizing an evaluation is discussed in some detail, as well as how various kinds of evaluation methods or tools can be used. Using existing resources, knowledge, and experience in a systematic way can provide valuable data for the evaluation and some suggestions are given for how this can be achieved. Different types of evaluation tools, such as surveys, interviews, questionnaires, and simple measurements and tests of attitudes and knowledge are presented, as well as ways in which evaluation results can be summarized, analyzed, and reported. The benefits of using a participatory approach are outlined, for instance, the increasing sense of collective responsibility for program activities, using and developing people’s abilities and skills to evaluate and monitor their own progress, and providing good information for making decisions about planning and program direction. This book is an accessible and useful tool for training
community workers to carry out their own evaluations and can also be applied to activities such as baseline surveys or other research processes.
Fozzard, S. (1995). Surviving violence. A recovery programme for children and families. Geneva: International Catholic Child Bureau.
This short book describes the psychosocial program run by the International Catholic Child Bureau (in conjunction with other NGOs) in the Ukwimi refugee settlement in Zambia. The book is intended for workers in the field of refugee assistance who seek community-based initiatives to address issues of violence and psychosocial well-being. The steps undertaken in gathering information and planning the program are described in detail, and emphasis is placed on the importance of understanding traditional ways of child rearing and coping with illness, sorrow, and stress before decisions are made about appropriate interventions. The three aspects of the program are described: sensitization; working in existing institutions, such as schools, clinics, and women’s clubs; and work in the villages with women, children, and men. For the latter set of activities, animators were trained who offered support, help and practical assistance to those facing particular problems; and training programs in psychosocial issues were also developed for teachers, nurses, and community workers. The book stresses the need not only for the community to own the program, which will occur when the people themselves see the value of the interventions, but also to take a flexible approach to programs so that changes can be made to the content, methods, and approaches used. Cultural considerations need to be taken into account and agencies should not take control of programs but should instead view themselves as catalysts who empower the community to undertake the identification of needs and resources and the development of the aims and objectives of the program.
Freeman, C., Henderson, P., and Kettle, J. (1999). Planning with children for better communities. The challenge to professionals. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.
The aim of this book is to ensure that children’s rights and participation become part of the good practice of professionals who make decisions about children’s lives. It is focused predominantly on working with children in the processes of planning better communities in the UK in light of recent attempts to address problems facing poor alienated communities in this country. Two key concepts—community empowerment and the quality of community life—are discussed in relation to community develop
ment, a process that the authors argue must involve children and young people if “better” communities are to be built. Central questions and dilemmas are identified, and while they are not necessarily answered, they guide the discussion. These are: How do children want to be consulted about issues affecting their communities and become involved in them? How can agendas of children’s rights organizations be integrated into community development undertaken in response to children’s needs? Is it possible to identify practice principles for the involvement of children in community programs? How can professional practitioners work more effectively with and on behalf of children? The difficulties involved in answering these questions should not diminish the potential offered by children’s participation but should instead lead to avoidance of framing the issue in too narrow or idealistic a way. The book addresses some aspects of children’s participation that is particular to the UK context within which it is placed but also investigates the conditions needed by professionals to support children’s participation in a broader global context.
Garbarino, J. and Kostelny, K. (1996). What do we need to know to understand children in war and community violence? In R.J. Apfel and B. Simon (Eds.), Minefields in their hearts. The mental health of children in war and communal violence. New Haven: Yale University Press.
In order to understand the destructive effects of war and violence on children, it is necessary to have a framework for conceptualizing the development of the child and the optimal environments in which the child grows up. The authors discuss the question of which theory or theories of development one should rely on and which are useful. The choice of developmental models of those who work with children is often influenced by their training and intellectual background as well as by the setting in which they work. The authors develop their own model that takes into account both the inner world of the child and external environment of family, school, and society. Their framework draws on several theoretical approaches and includes an emphasis on the role of political and spiritual meaning in the world of the child, intellectual development, and the stages a child goes through while growing up. The model includes encouraging helpful outside interventions in correcting the skewed development that accompanies war and violence, supports the child’s aspirations, and serves to empower and encourage the adults in the child’s world. The chapter provides a comprehensive introduction to childhood development and some of the dominant theories in this area.
Garbarino, J., Kostelny, K., and Dubrow, N. (1991). No place to be a child. Growing up in a war zone. Toronto: Lexington Books.
Written by three child developmental professionals, this book has been significant in shaping debates in the field. The central questions addressed in this book are how children live in war zones, how they cope and adapt, and at what cost to their minds and spirits. The researchers visited five conflict zones—Nicaragua, Cambodia, Mozambique, Palestine, and Chicago—and recorded the experiences of the children in these areas. Cases of children who are representative of the general situation are discussed, in combination with a broader focus on issues of resources, the history of the region, and how these factors are played out in the lives of children.
The authors note that the primary impact of war is social dislocation of which one consequence is a breakdown in the basic infrastructure of life, including food, health care, and education. Psychological first aid is suggested as a way of assisting children with the emotional scars they have suffered, for example, through sponsoring reunification programs for separated children and providing long-term educational and economic assistance. That the majority of children survive and cope if they have the support of parents or other caregivers is emphasized throughout the book. The strength of this book lies in the way that it allows the voices of the children to be heard and in the accounts of how the children respond and deal with their experiences. It also discusses the role of ideology and ideological conviction in the lives of children at length, drawing on research findings that suggest that it can have play a positive role in helping children cope with their experiences.
Garmezy, N. and Rutter, M. ( Eds.) (1983). Stress, coping, and development in children. New York: McGraw-Hill.
The edited chapters in this book examine the problems of stress in children from multiple viewpoints. The opening chapters provide a general overview and discussion of the concepts of stress, coping, and development. Two particular types of “stressors” are explored in more detail: the effects of war on children and the loss of a significant caregiver. The factors that influence a child’s adaptations to difficult circumstances and events are examined in depth. Garmezy reviews different approaches to the study of resilience in children and suggests that the evidence for the adaptive potential of children, their resilience, patterned in part out of personal disposition, the nature of their families, and a community of people whose strengths and similarities provide support for them. Other chapters discuss
the developmental perspective that focuses on different stages of childhood (infancy, early childhood, middle childhood and beyond) as well as the significant stressors of the age periods from biological, psychological, and social perspectives. The ecology of the family as a stress agent is also examined and the role it plays in antisocial and deviant behavior in children.
Gibbs, S. (1994). Post-war social reconstruction in Mozambique: Reframing children’s experience of trauma and healing. Disasters,18(3), 268-276.
This article reports on ethnographic research conducted in Mozambique at the end of 1993. It focuses on how people were reconstructing their lives and how the disrupted psychosocial worlds of children were understood and addressed as part of the process of community and individual healing. Mozambican culture, with its particular social, political, and economic threads, influences the way in which the community understands and acts on the needs of its children. Children were, for example, often depicted as strong survivors who actively “grow on their own,” a notion that is contrary to that of the vulnerability and passivity of children commonly held in the West. The findings also show that the boundaries between adulthood and childhood were at times ambiguous with children creating and recreating their roles according to their situation. Both adults and children expressed the view that the process of healing for them involved the work of rebuilding their lives, homes, communities, and futures. The most significant aspect of healing is seen as the active engagement in the management of daily life. The role of traditional healers and various churches that contributed to helping children who were severely affected by their experiences to overcome their difficulties are also discussed. A call for greater assistance for the reconstruction of the destroyed infrastructure and the distribution of seeds and tools concludes the article.
Gilbert, J. (1999). Responding to mental distress in the third world: Cultural imperialism or the struggle for synthesis?Development in Practice, 9(3), 287-295.
This article questions the appropriateness of some of the “help” that has been given in mental health in developing countries, particularly in Africa, and examines some of the complex issues underlying different cultural understandings of the etiology and treatment of mental illness. The author provides some observations from personal experience in the teaching of psychiatry, noting that while primary health care as a model of care
has become well established in developing countries, nursing staff who work at village level are usually not provided with adequate training about different cultural understandings of health and illness. Western psychiatric models of understanding mental illness are often considered as irrelevant in other societies where other frameworks such as spirit possession, for example, are more current. Principles of good practice need to be developed to ensure that Western “aid” in the sphere of mental health is constructive, sensitive, and relevant rather than simply another exercise in cultural imperialism. Listening to people is an essential starting point that requires the human skills of patience, humility, and willingness to learn from others and to respect the views and values that may differ from one’s own. A further principle within the field of mental health is to maximize what is helpful and to minimize what is harmful, which could be achieved if both indigenous healing systems and psychiatry work hand in hand with one another.
Gosling, L. (1994). Toolkits on assessment, monitoring, review, and evalua tion. London: Save the Children UK.
This training manual was originally written to help Save the Children (SCF) field staff assess, monitor, review, and evaluate programs in a systematic way to improve the effectiveness of their work. The manual consists of a number of toolkits on these topics, compiled from existing materials within SCF and other agencies. They are designed to assist in the whole strategic planning process by helping to make decisions in changing circumstances in a systematic way. The introductory chapter of the manual provides clear definitions of terms used in the field of evaluation—explaining differences, for example, between monitoring and review, aims and objectives, and the relationship between indicators and activities. The manual addresses issues of change, pointing out that the process through which projects are usually developed is informal and lengthy, resulting in possible confusion about the overall aims of the program. In addition, the environment in which projects operate is constantly changing economically, socially, politically, and physically. This will inevitably have an effect on the activities carried out and the program needs to be sufficiently flexible to respond to changing circumstances. Each toolkit, for example the one on assessment and planning, describes the purpose of the process, important points to consider when carrying it out, and the different approaches that can be used. The different techniques and tools are discussed in terms of their strengths and weaknesses, such as participatory assessment, logical framework analysis, cost effectiveness analysis, and SWOP
analysis. The final section focuses on emergency situations and the points to consider in such a context where assessment and monitoring may be conducted under difficult circumstances.
Gustafsson, L. (Ed.). (1999). Children and conflict: Rights and realities. Medicine, Conflict and Survival (Special Edition).
This special edition of the journal focuses on children affected by armed conflict and pursues a number of themes. One of these is the “treatment debate” about the applicability of Western models such as PTSD on people of different cultures and on children. Most authors suggest that greater caution in the use of these concepts is necessary and that more emphasis should be placed on local cultural patterns of coping with distress, while others make use of a medical trauma framework in their approach to these issues. A further theme is that of resilience with several authors exploring factors that contribute to resilience in war-affected children. The need to provide support to mental health professionals working with traumatized people is a further topic addressed in various chapters, with authors pointing out that an attitude of respect needs to prevail between local and international professionals if the former are not be undermined in their work. A number of initiatives aimed at assisting children cope with their experiences are described, for example, a school-based project in Croatia that included, among other things, nonviolent conflict resolution skills; and a Sri Lankan community-based program focusing on local capacity building. The chapters in this edition are written by people located within a medical paradigm but who are critical of the dominant medical approach that has frequently been adopted in response to these issues.
Haggerty, R., Sherrod, L., Garmezy, N., and Rutter, M. (1996). Stress, risk and resilience in children and adolescents: Processes, mechanisms and interven tions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
This book on vulnerability and resilience is based on a conference that addressed physical and mental disorders, protective factors, depression in the young, the effects of divorce, and issues surrounding minority adolescents. The content and organization of this book is guided by a new research framework that replaces the general and simplistic labels of “stress” and “coping” with the premise that the concepts of risk, resilience, and development should guide investigations of processes, mechanisms, and interventions. The book aims to depict how four complex themes have
demanded this broadening and reframing of issues. First, risk factors and problem outcomes show an interrelatedness in that they cooccur. However, substantial, important, and developmentally meaningful individual variability has been demonstrated. Second, inter- as well as intraindividual variation exists in the factors responsible for resilience and susceptibility to stress. Third, it is critical to examine the processes and mechanisms that link multiple stressors to multiple outcomes. It is not sufficient to merely describe stressors and outcomes. Fourth, the recognition of interrelatedness and individual variability and the careful examination of processes then allows the design and evaluation of interventions and prevention programs to break the links between stress and adverse outcomes.
Hanbury, C. (1996). Child-to-child and children living in camps. London: The Child-to-Child Trust.
This manual is designed to introduce teachers, health workers, and community leaders to the concept of the child-to-child approach and suggest ways that it can be used to improve the health and well-being of children and their families who live in camps. This approach is based on the recognition that in many parts of the world older children care for younger children, and that these opportunities can be used to communicate important health information from one child to another. In addition, children have also been found to influence adult members of their families and communities. Children are therefore involved in an informal and participatory way in the learning process about a specific health topic, such as malaria, coughs, or pneumonia, and are then encouraged to discuss what activities can be undertaken to help those suffering from these illnesses. The children are then encouraged to engage in these activities in the communities or camps and are supported by the adult organizer who helps where children are faced with situations they cannot handle. The manual stresses the importance of making the activities fun and not overburdening for children, yet at the same time giving them the opportunity to make decisions about issues around them. While the focus of the child-to-child approach is primarily on physical health issues, the manual also includes a section on understanding feelings, disabilities, helping children whose friends or relatives have died, and those who have experienced war, disaster, or conflict. Ideas are given for how adult facilitators can approach the topics with the children and what age-appropriate activities can be initiated with them. The manual can be a useful impetus to psychosocial practitioners by reminding adults of children’s natural ability to share, learn, and experience together.
Harrell-Bond, B. (2000). Are refugee camps good for children?Geneva: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
This article discusses the impact that living and growing up in refugee camps has on children. The origin of refugee camps is described, and a critical overview is presented of the various factors such as security issues and the costs of camp-based relief programs that make the expediency of camps questionable. It has been said, for example, that the money spent on assistance to Rwandan refugees in 1994 was more than all the development aid that had been invested in Rwanda since its independence. In addition, the author argues that refugee camps are artificial environments where freedom of movement is restricted, malnutrition is common, and overcrowding causes epidemics such as cholera and dysentry to become major killers. Enforced idleness fosters low self-esteem, especially among men, and domestic violence and family breakdown are often rife in refugee camps. Frequently, children are denied the opportunity to learn a vocation in camp settings, and the provision of education is often a secondary consideration for aid agencies. Self-settlement is suggested as an alternative to camps and is one that some governments have successfully implemented in the past. The advantage is that the local and refugee populations are treated on par with refugees with humanitarian assistance being given to host institutions rather than setting up a parallel system, thus reducing the potential for conflict over resources. In conclusion, it is suggested that powerful bureaucratic and institutional interests exist that keep refugees in camps and dependent on relief but that the international community needs to seriously consider providing alternatives.
Hart, R. (1997). Children’s participation. The theory and practice of involv ing young children in community development and environmental care.New York: UNICEF.
This book provides a theoretical overview of approaches to facilitating the participation of children in community activities and practical suggestions for how this can be done. It begins with a critique of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is seen as an example of “protectionism” toward children, thereby compromising their participatory rights. Children’s developing capacities to participate are outlined, and factors such as identity, culture, intelligence, and social cooperation are considered in relation to these capacities. Every child develops in different domains at different rates and children at each age are capable of making contributions to group activities. It is important to focus on what children can do rather
than on what they cannot do when considering how children are going to participate in specific programs or activities. The ladder of children’s participation is discussed, with adult manipulation of children’s voices at one end of the ladder, and child-initiated activities at the other. The author stresses that children do not always have to participate at the highest level but that a program should be designed to maximize the opportunity for anyone to choose to participate at the highest level of her ability and interest. Ideas for how children’s participation can be facilitated are then given, for example, through mapping and modelling, interviewing and conducting surveys, and through the use of media.
Hinton, R. (2000). Seen but nor heard: Refugee children and models for intervention. Pp. 199-212 in C. Panter-Brick and M. Smith (Eds.), Aban doned children. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
This chapter is based on fieldwork conducted in Bhutanese refugee camps in Nepal. It focuses on the ways in which children provide social support for adults, reversing the assumptions frequently informing Western models of intervention that the important flow of support is from adults to children. Research often concentrates on the refugee child as a recipient rather than a significant actor in the community, and Hinton’s work challenges the adult-centered focus. Children in the camps were found to be actively promoting cohesion within the social unit or household. They were aware of their caregivers’ emotions and used this knowledge to demand and gain attention, finding their own strategies to both provide support and elicit it from others. The children also transferred energy and ideas that they gained in the public sphere into activities into the home. Among the general refugee population mothers with children seemed to be suffering less psychological distress and presenting themselves less frequently to the health centers, an indication that the presence of children operated as a “protective factor” for the women. Children were also actively involved in community networks of support through being asked by the camp committee to go around the camp and advise people to go to the hospital when a cholera epidemic broke out. The author concludes that Western approaches to children as vulnerable victims are not always appropriate.
Honwana, A. (1997). Healing for peace: Traditional healers and post-war reconstruction in Southern Mozambique. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology,3(3), 293-305.
This article presents some of the strategies for post-war healing and social construction that were used in rural areas in Mozambique following the long period of social and material destruction of the civil war. These strategies are profoundly influenced by local beliefs in the spirits of the dead, as well as by concepts of ill health and healing. The spirits of people who did not have a proper burial or of those unjustly killed, for example, are believed to cause trouble for the living until they are appeased through the performance of appropriate burial rites. Traditional healers and diviners are consulted by families in an attempt to stop or prevent the spirits from causing problems and to cleanse those family members who have been in contact with unnatural death and killing. Children who were abducted during the war frequently participated in such rituals upon their return to their families, especially if they were perceived to be acting strangely, for instance, through being overly aggressive or withdrawn. The rituals represent a break with the past for the individuals and also serve social functions that restore the individual’s identity as a member of the community. This article makes the point that the cultural dimensions to postwar recovery are vital and that local world views and systems need to be taken as a starting point for understanding the strategies employed.
Hope, A. and Timmel, S. (1995). Training for transformation. A handbook for community workers. Gweru, Zimbabwe: Mambo Press.
This “classic” of participatory research texts was first published in 1984, yet remains relevant to the present day. It consists of three volumes written for educators and community workers who wish to work with communities in a participatory manner. The manual is based on Paulo Freire’s theory of transformative education, which aims to activate people’s critical consciousness and enhance their analytic skills in understanding the social and political forces that operate within their societies. The first volume focuses predominantly on how this theory can be put into practice by helping local communities identify issues of concern to them and which ones they would like to change. The authors assert that real participation at a grassroots level can only be achieved if this is taken as a starting point. Volume II deals with group processes and dynamics, emphasizing the fact that an understanding of these is essential when trying to ensure that decision making, action planning, and evaluation are inclusive processes. The last volume widens the discussion from the local community level to a national and international level by providing tools for analyzing how broader forces impact on local efforts toward development. All volumes contain examples of how
issues can be addressed through training exercises and are written in an accessible manner aided by illustrations and other visual material. This manual is relevant because of its commitment to taking local issues seriously, clear explanation of processes involved, and the useful suggestions for addressing and debating these.
Human Rights Watch (1994). Easy prey. Child soldiers in Liberia. New York: Author.
This report focuses on the situation of children involved in the armed conflict in Liberia. Although international law forbids the use of children under the age of 18, thousands of children have been involved by various warring factions since the fighting began in 1989. The losses incurred by the children are high: many have been killed or wounded and all have been denied the opportunity to live a peaceful life. The reintegration of these children into their communities is a difficult task as some children’s parents have been killed, their families fled, and no relatives can be found. In other communities families have refused to take children back because of the abuses they have committed. While interventions for reintegration are not discussed in detail, the report does make a number of recommendations for how international law as well as the UN and the Organization of African Unity can attempt to address the problems experienced by the children.
Human Rights Watch (1996). Children in combat. New York: Author.
Throughout the different regions of the world thousands of children are used as soldiers in armed conflict situations. While armed groups often claim that children are present in their camps for their own protection and welfare, evidence shows that involvement of children in conflict puts them in grave danger and is highly detrimental to their physical and emotional well-being. The report investigates the ways in which children are recruited, the possible reasons for their recruitment and participation, the roles that children play in combat and in violence against civilian populations and their treatment while participating in armed conflict. International law forbids the recruitment of children under the age of 15 and the report calls on all parties to implement mechanisms that further the prevention of recruitment of children and their protection in situations of armed conflict.
Human Rights Watch (1997). The scars of death. Children abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. New York: Author.
In Northern Uganda, thousands of children are victims of a vicious
cycle of violence caught between a brutal rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army, and the army of the Ugandan government. The rebels attack the civilian population, killing, raping, and mutilating whoever they come across. They also abduct civilians, many of them children. These children are forced to carry heavy loads of looted goods, they are forced to serve the rebels, and girls are usually given to rebel commanders as “wives.” All abducted children are trained as soldiers and those who protest or resist are killed usually by other children who are forced to do so. The report recounts the hardship of the abducted children who rarely manage to escape but whose ordeal is not over should they be successful in their attempts to escape. Their villages may have been destroyed or they may hesitate to return to their families for fear of reprisals. The children who have escaped from the rebels wake screaming in the night from dreams of pain and death—scars that may some day fade if peace comes to the region. Some NGOs provide live-in counseling and rehabilitation centers for the children in order to help the children make the transition back to civilian life but not all children are reached through these attempts.
International Labour Office (1995). The reintegration of young ex-combat ants into civilian life. Geneva: Author.
This report on an expert meeting on guidelines for training and employment of ex-combatants in Africa highlights the urgent attention that is required to help combatants under the age of 18 reintegrate into civilian life upon demobilization. In many countries no policy has been outlined that addresses this issue, and frequently no assistance is provided to this group, which in some situations, makes up a substantial proportion of armed forces. Different case studies are presented that reflect different approaches taken by agents in the process, for example, maintaining the children on the army payroll while providing an education for them, or complementing the children’s rehabilitation with outreach to their families and communities. Issues of concern in the reintegration of child soldiers are the stability of the context into which they are to be reintegrated, community involvement in reintegration, physical effects and disabilities, and the situation of girl soldiers who are frequently sexually abused in addition to experiencing the same situation of war-related violence as the boys. Coping with behavioral problems of demobilized child soldiers is thought to best be addressed through helping the children overcome their sense of mistrust and supporting the community to understand the children’s reactions rather than “managing” the children’s behavior. Education and vocational train
ing are seen as crucial aspects of the successful reintegration of former child soldiers, and the potential for positive effects of remedial activities are also discussed. The aim of all these programs is to help the children develop a sense of identity that is not linked to their previous roles in the military but incorporates the values, norms, and practices that regulate and give reason to family and community.
International Organization for Migration (2000). Psychosocial and trauma response in war-torn societies. The case of Kosovo.Geneva: Author.
This publication of the proceedings of an international seminar on psychosocial and trauma responses in Kosovo, held in March 2000, aims to present current issues and debates in the field of psychosocial assistance in postconflict contexts. Although the primary focus is on Kosovo and the various psychosocial projects that have been operating in this region over the past few years, the diverse collection of papers also spans topics such as cultural sensitivity, the media’s representations of refugees and their distress, and the training needs of psychosocial workers. Renos Papadopoulos’ paper, for example, discusses the importance of the political context in which violence occurs, as well as the way in which stories of resilience based on traditional values, historical experiences, or religious convictions can be helpful in providing a new identity for communities who have been devastated by violent conflict. This theme is further discussed by Silvia Salvatici who describes The Archives of Memory project that formed part of the IOM psychosocial training program in Kosovo. The aim of this project was the production, collection, and circulation of stories of war, exile, and return in order to contribute to a collective memory of the past that will in turn help facilitate the rebuilding of identity in the region. Although these papers may be of interest primarily to people concerned with issues of memory and identity, they provide insight into the interconnectedness between these issues and the psychosocial well-being of war-affected populations.
International Save the Children Alliance (1999). Children’s rights: reality or rhetoric? The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: The first ten years. London: Author.
The aim of this review is to assess how much progress has been made for the benefit of children since the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1989. The global context in which issues of children’s rights need to be understood is described, and two aspects are identified for detailed discussion: child soldiers and child labor. The con
nection between these two issues and poverty are pointed out as it is noted that the categories of children most likely to be child laborers in peacetime are also those most likely to become child soldiers. The ethical dilemmas posed by demobilization and reintegration in a postconflict situation are discussed, for instance, the principle of not giving any advantage to demobilized child soldiers while at the same time not discriminating against them because of their age. Various programs that have successfully engaged in the demobilization of underage soldiers are presented. Similarly, the report suggests that child labor is a complex problem that cannot be viewed in isolation but requires action at local, national, and international levels. The main part of the report consists of country reports that highlight the pertinent issues affecting children in a particular country. The fact that practice often differs from rhetoric guides these discussions of countries that have signed up to the Convention on the Rights of the Child but do not implement its principles.
James, A. (1998). From the child’s point of view: Issues in the social construction of childhood. Pp. 45-65 in C. Panter-Brick (Ed.), Biosocial perspectives on children. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
The suggestion that the notion of childhood was invented rather than it being a universal phenomenon that exists “out there” in reality may seem like yet another example of postmodern social science gone mad. The author examines the main themes of the debate about relative versus universal features of the notion of childhood in order to clarify why this debate is of importance to people who work with children. Three research issues are examined: the idea that childhood is a social and cultural phenomenon; the recognition of the importance of children’s own experiences for any understanding of childhood; and the value of the debate for contemporary understanding of children’s lives. The author outlines four different models of childhood that have been adopted by researchers and analyzes what each model implies about children’s social positions. Children have often been seen as “objects” of research rather than “subjects” and their voices have not been heard in traditional models of childhood that have viewed children through Western lenses that see childhood as a passive, dependent phase of development. As researchers learn more of children’s lives it is clear that the competencies of children are as disparate as they are similar. The author concludes that the socially constructed nature of childhood must be taken into account in any exploration of children’s lives.
Jareg, E. and Jareg, P. (1994). Reaching children through dialogue. London: Save The Children and MacMillan.
The main purpose of this book is stimulate the readers’ interest in the developing child in the context of family and community. The book can be used for a variety of purposes, such as having dialogues with people about specific issues related to children, or making a full community diagnosis with subsequent planning for child-centered activities. Planners, community development workers, teachers, and health workers who work with children may find this book useful for the information provided about the different issues to consider when planning assistance to children. It begins with a chapter on basic knowledge on child development, focuses on children in especially difficult circumstances, and describes some basic therapeutic actions that community workers can employ in their work with these children. It is followed by a discussion of how to make a community diagnosis when planning child-centered community activities. Indicators, processes, monitoring, and evaluation are examined. Factors affecting child development in a community, ranging from agriculture and nutrition to the child’s immediate environment, are presented and each factor is linked to appropriate indicators and examples. In addition, six important external factors are presented that influence the lives of members of the community and over which they may have little control. An example of this is political instability. Conversations with and about children offer unique “points of entry” for talks with different members of a community, thereby facilitating the building of good relations. It is also important that child-centered activities are community-based and that proper consultations are initiated before projects are planned.
Johnson, V., Hill, J., and Ivan-Smith, E. (1995). Listening to smaller voices: Children in an environment of change.London: ActionAid.
This ActionAid development report investigates the roles of children in developing countries and the work they undertake at a household level. It also explores the effects of social and environmental changes on their lives and workloads. The main conclusion is the imperative to understand the needs of children and to include this focus in all development planning as children not only constitute over 50 percent of the population in many developing countries but also make substantial contributions to the workloads of households. Children should be included in the process of planning, implementation, and evaluation of initiatives that affect the whole
community if the impact that poverty-reducing measures make on communities is to be understood. The authors argue that a generation analysis is as important as a gender analysis and that the two are inseparably intertwined. The situation of girls receives special attention as they clearly emerged as having greater workloads and less decision making power than boys. The strength of this book lies in its practical suggestions for how development workers can learn to “listen to smaller voices” and gain insight into the perspectives of children and the challenges they face. Although the focus of this book is on child work, psychosocial practitioners will find the examples of participatory research methods with children useful and may be interested in the convincing arguments for why adults should include children in community projects.
Johnson, V., Ivan-Smith, E., Gordon, G., Pridmore, P., and Scott, P. (Eds.). (1998). Stepping forward. Children and young people’s participation in the development process. London: Intermediate Technology Publications.
Working with children and young people and participating with them not only has benefits for the children but also provides agencies with information and knowledge about the youngsters’ lives. Without this information, projects are less effective and may have unforeseen circumstances. This book is aimed at practitioners and researchers who seek ways of becoming more participatory in their activities and consists of various short contributions from governmental and nongovernmental organizations, youth groups, and academics who explore a range of perspectives. A number of themes are explored in the book. Part 2, for example, reviews communication techniques and ethical considerations. Part 3 focuses on different participatory processes, emphasizing innovative ways of using video, photo evaluation, television programming, and theater to work with young people. The importance of visualization and making research processes fun, accessible, and inclusive are highlighted. The significance of the cultural context within which one is working is discussed in Part 4, using case studies from a variety of regions to illustrate the points made. The role of children’s participation in conflict settings is explored in another section. Institutional settings are frequently used by researchers when working with children and these are explored from the perspectives of how children see themselves fitting into different formal and informal structures. A final section concentrates on young people as active participants in the development process rather than as passive victims and the implications of this are explored. This book provides an excellent introduction to the issues that
arise when seeking to work in a participatory way with children and gives many concrete examples of how certain techniques and approaches have been implemented with children.
Kirby, P. (1999). Involving young researchers. How to enable young people to design and conduct research. York, UK: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
This publication focuses on how young people can be involved in designing and conducting research and targets practitioners and researchers who wish to explore the involvement of working with young people in participatory ways. It explores the issues of whether to involve young people as researchers, and the ways in which they can participate in the different stages of the research process. The ideas in this book are based on the experience and views of adult researchers, youth and development workers, and young people, mostly from projects and initiatives undertaken by Save The Children UK. Participatory research is not only important for improving research methods but for setting research agendas. By influencing what is researched and how their lives are represented, young people can participate in institutional decision-making processes. As such the emphasis is democratization of research in which adults do research with children, rather than on them. The book is not a manual on participatory research methods used to collect data from children but illustrates many ways of involving young people in research without offering prescriptive models. Some practical guidelines are given, for example, on young people analyzing research data and writing up the findings and on disseminating the research, evaluating, and doing further development work. Save The Children UK also published an accompanying set of learning resource materials to assist workers to train young people in research.
Kos, A.M. (1995). The war, the school and refugee children’s mental health protection. Ljubljana, Slovenia: The Counseling Center for Children, Adolescents and Parents.
This paper discusses the role and importance of primary school for refugee children in Slovenia and the psychosocial education program developed by the mental health team for the schools. The scope of schools in refugee settings is more significant than under normal conditions as it serves a “normalizing” function, provides structure, directs the children’s thoughts toward the future, provides children with different and distracting ideas, encounters, and knowledge, and helps children’s develop working habits. Attending school can counteract feelings of dependence and helplessness
and may help the child recuperate feelings of self-esteem and competence. The author discusses the problems that children who have faced distressing experiences of armed conflict may encounter with learning and attending schools and outline the program they instituted to counter these difficulties. The mental health team worked with teachers to provide them with information about the psychosocial problems the children may be experiencing and practical knowledge of how they can assist them. Meeting with parents also formed part of the activities undertaken, as well as improving teachers’ educational capacities and skills when they felt overwhelmed. The program also included ideas about how topics of importance to the children could be incorporated into lessons and how teachers could use these to promote the children’s psychosocial well-being. Giving support to the teachers became another facet of the program and the team concentrated on the coping skills and resources at the disposal of this group to deal with their difficulties. Finally, an evaluation was conducted that illustrates the strengths and weaknesses of the program. For practitioners interested in working with schools in improving the psychosocial well-being of children, this program provides important insights and guidelines.
Kos, A.M. and Derviskadic-Jovanovic, S. (1998). What can we do to support children who have been through war?Forced Migration Review,3, 4-7.
The central argument made in this article is that claims of the long-term devastating effects of war on children’s psychosocial well-being may be overexaggerated and inaccurate. The authors reflect on four years of providing support to young refugees in Slovenia and conclude that while the war certainly causes suffering and influences a child’s perception of the world, this does not necessarily mean that the child is psychologically harmed. In most cases the psychological consequences of war on children are in the range of normal human feelings and memories. Mental health professionals have paid little attention to the actual functioning of children who have experienced war and their largely satisfactory social functioning and coping are therefore mainly underestimated. The immense protective role of good psychosocial functioning has also frequently been overlooked. In addition, positive influences of war on personality, values, relations, and behavior are rarely quoted. Experiences of war can encourage empathy, positive social behavior, coping capacities, and social maturity. The authors argue that mental heath programs should primarily be based on population-oriented outreach models. They should be of a broad psychosocial
nature (as opposed to specialized trauma programs), should be comprehensive, and should be aimed at improving the quality and normalization of children’s lives.
Lansdown, G. (2001). Promoting children’s participation in democratic deci sion-making. Florence, Italy: UNICEF, Innocenti Research Center.
Since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, “child participation” has been the subject of an increasing flow of initiatives. NGOs, community groups, and schools have started to explore what is meant by consultation, participation, partnership, and empowerment. This publication was produced in this context of a rapidly changing and turbulent environment and makes a case for a commitment to respecting children’s rights to be heard. The author suggests that a need exists to consolidate what agencies know and to learn from existing practices of working with children as partners and sets out to do this by drawing on already published research and thinking in the field and a wide range of international initiatives. The implications of Article 12 of the CRC are analyzed in detail in terms of its potential scope for children’s participation and the question of how effective and genuine participation can be implemented is discussed. Commonly identified problems, such as children who are not representative, the difficulty in sustaining initiatives with children, and the manipulation of children for adult agendas are discussed. Various examples of good and bad practice of different types of programs are given: consultative processes such as the Children’s Parliament in Slovenia; participative initiatives such as the Child-to-Child Projects in Nicaragua and the Girl Child Project in Pakistan; and research with children and self-advocacy such as the Programme of Working Children in Ecuador. A final section deals with involving children in conferences. Additional reference material is provided in the Appendix.
Leiper De Monchy, M. (1991). Recovery and rebuilding: The challenge for refugee children and service providers. Pp. 163-180 in F.L. Ahearn and J. Athey (Eds.), Refugee children: theory, research, and services. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.
This chapter summarizes the challenges refugee children face and suggests how these problems and needs must be integrated into the systems that are designed to serve refugee youth. Education, cross-cultural approaches, and interagency collaboration are all essential in providing support to the children and their families. The specialization and fragmenta
tion of service delivery in the United States often does not meet the multiple needs of refugees who may be used to and may require a more holistic and comprehensive system of assistance. Two model programs are described where a balance between mainstream and specialized services is achieved. Cross-cultural teams are essential in service provision as recovery and rebuilding involves the integration of traditional and American culture. The author emphasizes the need for service providers to understand the problems of refugee children in order to do no harm and the importance of designing services that build on the strengths of these young people.
Lewis, A. and Lindsay, G. (Eds.). (2000). Researching children’s perspec tives. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.
Methods of research used with children need careful consideration. This edited book examines the issues involved when researching children’s perspectives from both a theoretical and conceptual stance as well as from the practical application of research approaches. Ethical, legal, psychological, and sociological dimensions of conducting research with children are discussed, and the authors argue that the decision of which research methods to apply should be determined by reference to the research question and ethical considerations first, and by practical considerations second. A commonality of method was noted among researchers studying children’s perspectives from within a number of different disciplines where almost all researchers used participant observation and interviews as a means of collecting data. It is suggested, however, that “mixed method” approaches, which draw on both qualitative and quantitative approaches, may provide opportunities to produce valid, interesting, and useful findings. The book also draws attention to important differences between adults and children, which may surface through the misinterpretion by adults of what children present, for instance, through drawings, photographs, or models. Cultural and religious issues may also lead to misunderstandings between children and adults. The book also outlines some of the preparations for conducting research with children and ways of putting children at ease. Case examples of research with children are given and are discussed critically.
Loughry, M. and Ager, A. (Eds.). (2001). The refugee experience. Psychoso cial training module(revised edition). Oxford: Refugee Studies Center.
This training module was produced with the aim of providing an overview of the current debates and issues in the field of psychosocial assistance to war-affected populations. It is designed for humanitarian workers and
refugee policy makers who do not necessarily have a professional background in the social sciences but who wish to gain insight into the psychosocial dimensions of working with refugees. The main volume consists of a series of discussion guides that focus on various aspects of psychosocial work. Derek Summerfield analyzes the nature of modern warfare and its implications for appropriate psychosocial responses. Mary Diaz, the Executive Director of the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, investigates a number of issues pertaining to gender and displacement—such as the situation of girls affected by armed conflict, mental health, reproductive health concerns, income generation, and the empowerment of displaced women. The psychosocial needs of refugee children and adolescents are examined by Margaret McCallin who stresses the need to contextualize discussions within a child rights framework. Non-Western concepts of mental health are discussed by Alcinda Honwana who looks at the way in which mental health and illness can be understood outside of the framework of Western biomedical paradigms. Inger Agger presents a case example of a psychosocial project in Croatia outlining the reason behind decisions made to constitute a therapeutic group with women. The Refugee Experience is intended as a training guide and therefore includes notes for facilitators, additional references, ideas for an interactive cross-cultural game, and a glossary of relevant terms. Volume II includes a section on developing communication and helping skills with participants, as well as one on how community participation can be facilitated.
Machel, G. (1996). Promotion and protection of the rights of children: Im pact of armed conflict on children.New York: United Nations.
This report is the most comprehensive overview of the impact of armed conflict on children. The study was overseen by Graça Machel and undertaken with the support of the United Nations Center for Human Rights and UNICEF. Six regional consultations were held to which eminent leaders from civil society, women and children directly involved in armed conflict, religious organizations, governments, military authorities, legal experts, and human rights organizations were invited. The report explores issues such as child soldiers, the effects of displacement on children, sexual exploitation, gender-based violence, land mines, health and nutrition, education, reconstruction and reconciliation, conflict prevention, and implementation mechanisms for the protection of children. The chapter on the promotion of psychological recovery and social integration outlines the psychosocial effects that situations of armed conflict have on children and
points out that while relatively little is known about the long-term psychosocial impact of lengthy civil wars, the pain and sorrow caused by the loss of parents and other close family members has to be taken into account. Recovery programs should focus on mobilizing existing social care systems and should be based on respect and understanding of local cultures. The integration of knowledge of child development and child rights with traditional concepts and practices is discussed.
Machel, G. (2001). The impact of war on children. A review of progress since the 1996 United Nations report on the impact of armed conflict on children. London: Hurst & Company.
This report is the formal review of progress made since the publication of the 1996 UN-commissioned study on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children and known as the Machel Study. It lists the actions taken over the last five years toward protecting children’s rights in armed conflict, for example, the appointment of a Special Representative of the UN Secretary-general for Children and Armed Conflict, and the launch of initiatives such as the Action for the Rights of Children training program and the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. The main body of the book addresses several overarching themes. The unabated continuation of the violations of child rights is condemned and an end to impunity for these crimes is called for. The gender dimensions of conflict and peace building are important themes of the report, as gaps exist in the protection of women and girls and their role in peace initiatives are undermined. Adolescents are mentioned as a group that is under extreme risk during armed conflict as they are targeted for recruitment, sexual abuse, and exploitation and at risk of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. The report argues that this age group requires special assistance in order to promote their well-being and ensure their active participation in community reconstruction programs. Over the past few years the threat posed by HIV/ AIDS has become a powerful new factor that aggravates the brutal circumstances of war, and the study devotes a chapter to an examination of the various effects of this pandemic on children. Protecting children from sanctions, raising standards for child protection, and the role of the media are other topics discussed in the book. This progress report provides a general overview of the current problems facing children affected by armed conflict worldwide and gives insight into the obstacles to overcome to improve the situation.
Macksoud, M. (1993). Helping children cope with the stresses of war. A manual for parents and teachers . New York: UNICEF.
This useful manual was developed as a resource intended for parents and teachers in communities where children are subjected to the stresses of war and has been used widely by organizations and practitioners in the field. It is based on methods and approaches that have undergone extensive testing in Lebanon and Kuwait. It aims to empower adults to understand and deal constructively with the disruptive problem behavior of these children and to help them cope with their experiences of war. The manual begins with descriptions of different types of wartime experiences that are stressful to children and provides keys to understanding the distinction between “normal” and “severe” reactions. The book draws attention to the need to identify the causes of a child’s reaction and the reactions characteristic of children at different ages. Part Two of the manual proposes general guidelines—one set for teachers and another for parents—for handling ten common problem behaviors, such as clinging, bed-wetting, aggression, and depression. Case examples of children and their reactions to stress are given and concrete suggestions are made for how adults can facilitate a resolution of the behaviors. The final section concentrates on situations when the problems reach a severe stage and additional medical or psychological help is necessary. Some criteria for identifying extreme reactions that cannot be handled by teachers or parents are given and referral to a child specialist is advised. The strength of this manual is its concrete and practical focus on assisting adults to understand and cope with children’s reactions to the distress caused by war thereby providing an accessible and useful resource. The somewhat narrow focus on symptoms of stress simplifies the issues, however, and some of the suggestions made are based on a specific cultural understanding of the relationship between adults and children that is not necessarily applicable in different parts of the world.
Macksoud, M., Aber, L., and Cohn, I. (1996). Assessing the impact of war on children. Pp. 218-230 in R. Apfel and B. Simon (Eds.), Minefields in their hearts: The mental health of children in war and communal violence. New Haven: Yale University Press.
This chapter presents an example of an assessment of the impact of violent situations on children that does not represent further invasion to a community. It was conducted in Kuwait in order to develop an appropriate primary mental health program for children affected by the Iraqi occupation. Four aspects were covered in the assessment: war-related stressors and
trauma, psychosocial outcomes, developmental processes, and the children’s ecologies (parents, peers, families, schools, communities). It was found that ecological and developmental factors mediated the effects of war on children’s development, for example, a strong family network and support from the community “buffered” the impact of war events. The authors also found that those children who had grown up in a relatively stable and problem-free environment reacted much more strongly to the violence around them. Those children who were burdened by emotional and financial problems were less overwhelmed by the demands of war. The findings of the assessment led to the development of two psychosocial programs, one a school and the other a media program. The authors conclude that policy recommendations and psychosocial programs based on sound research methodology, sensitivity to local cultures, and the use of local resources are far more responsive and cost-effective than those that are rapidly constructed in response to a particular emergency.
Man, N. (2000). Children, torture and power. The torture of children by states and armed opposition groups. London: Save the Children UK.
This book focuses on an issue that has received little attention from the international community—the fact that children are tortured and ill treated on a daily basis. A failure to recognize torture where it occurs, the shame of torture, and the danger of complaining are some of the factors that have contributed to the underreporting of this form of abuse. The vulnerability of children to ill-treatment by police, gangs, or other groups is increased by the rapid urbanization and poverty that are features of many parts of the world. In situations of armed conflict, torture of children occurs for those who are directly involved in the war, for instance, forcefully recruited or coerced into joining one or the other side, and for civilian children who may be raped, mutilated, or otherwise subjected to ill-treatment. Children may also be tortured because of their family associations, political activism, or membership of religious, or ethnic/social communities. Justice for these children is a rarity as impunity for perpetrators is the norm. This report calls for this issue to become part of the mainstream global human rights agenda. Research on psychological and other effects of torture on children suggests that it is not possible to generalize about the impact of torture, because that impact is highly context-dependent. The book, nevertheless, highlights the urgent need for organizations and governments to address this situation and to provide support to children who have undergone these experiences to help them cope with the psychosocial consequences.
Mansfield, D. (1997). Evaluation: Tried and tested? A review of Save the Children evaluation reports. London: Save the Children UK.
This report summarizes the findings of an “evaluation of evaluations” commissioned by Save the Children to identify the effectiveness of formal evaluations conducted within this organization. It is a unique study that provides a critical perspective on the processes of evaluation conducted in practice. The constraints of past practice were an important reason of why many evaluations in the organization have concentrated on outputs and effects rather than on the impact the projects have had on the lives and livelihoods of communities and their members. Project activities rather than changes in people’s lives have been assessed. Improvements have been made in how terms of reference are established, reflecting an increasing practice of consultation between Save the Children, local staff, and counterparts in an attempt to satisfy the different information needs of stakeholders. Formal evaluations are being used more and more as a valuable forum for stakeholders to resolve management and implementation issues, clarify objectives and indicators, and strengthen partnership and local capacity. The author identifies a need for a redefinition of evaluation that involves decentralizing the process through devolving judgments to those most informed to make a judgment: program staff, counterparts, and beneficiaries. Impact monitoring and internal reviews may be the most effective means of achieving this. Formal evaluations are best refocused on thematic and sectoral issues, drawing on improved project monitoring systems and allowing for comparative work aimed at ascertaining best practice and informing policy development. Project monitoring needs to be strengthened, and evaluation and its component parts need to be integrated into program management in a wider institutional culture of reflective self-criticism. Various concrete recommendations are made for improving stakeholder participation, feeding evaluation into policy, learning from evaluation, and the organizational requirements necessary for this.
Masten, A. and Hubbard, J. (2002). Global threats to child development: A resilience framework for humanitarian intervention. Minneapolis: Center for Victims of Torture, University of Minnesota.
Global threats to child well-being and development, such as war, disease, economic or sexual exploitation and extreme poverty, pose challenges for humanitarian assistance at many levels. This paper focuses on how developmental research on resilience contributes to devising guiding principles for intervention that are congruent with the rights and needs of chil
dren as embodied in the CRC. Studies of resilience attempt to find explanations for positive and negative adaptation in the presence or aftermath of adversity. Proximity to caregivers and other close, supportive adults, the quality of preexisting caregiver-child relationships, and the functional status of those caregivers (how they cope with the situation themselves) are identified as important factors promoting child functioning. Psychosocial factors, such as good cognitive functioning, perceived safety, faith, hope or a sense of meaning, and opportunities to play and go to school are further protective factors. Other systems play a central role in resilience processes, for example, religious and spiritual systems, and community services, and the operation of these systems can be described as “ordinary magic” as the effects of these systems can be extraordinary but the actual processes are ordinary and common. Interventions need to be oriented toward protecting and restoring conditions that foster the function, restoration, and healthy development of these fundamental human adaptational systems. In addition, a resilience perspective underscores a focus on positive goals and outcomes, while simultaneously reducing negative outcomes or threats for development. The paper concludes with an outline of the implications of this for setting priorities in the humanitarian agenda.
Mawson, A. and Dodd, R. (2000). War brought us here. Protecting children displaced within their own countries by conflict . London: Save the Children UK.
This aim of this report is to draw attention to the situation of the estimated 13 million internally displaced children around the world. Children displaced by conflict within the borders of their own country often have similar experiences to those of refugee children but may be additionally vulnerable to ongoing violence at the hands of those who forced them to flee. Increasing the “visibility” of these children places pressure on governments and armed opposition groups to fulfill their obligations under international law. Seven gaps in the protection of internally displaced children are identified, among them are the widespread failure to address effectively the long-term needs of this group and the shortage of accurate information on the numbers and needs of displaced children. The report then presents a number of country case studies that outline the causes of displacement in a particular country, the violation of children’s rights, and the responses of the government and other groups to the situation. The report gives a general overview of issues relating to internally displaced children and as such is one of the few resources currently available on this topic.
McCallin, M. (Ed.). (1996). The psychological well-being of refugee chil dren. Research, practice and policy issues.Geneva: International Catholic Child Bureau.
This edited book brings together contributions of signficant scholars and practitioners in the field and provides a thorough introduction to research, practice, and policy issues as they affect the area of psychosocial work with children. It has been a key resource in the field over the past few years. The book comprises three sections. The first section focuses on the effects of war, distress, and violent displacement on children, addressing a number of topics, such as consequences for development, symptoms of trauma, and the role that mothers play in mediating the harmful effects on children. Many chapters stress that trauma is not an “all or nothing” situation but is an interplay between a variety of variables. The second section consists of seven examples of strategies of intervention. Case studies of programs with child soldiers in Sierra Leone, war-affected communities in Guatemala, a primary health care project in Nicaragua, and Mozambican refugees in Zambia among others, are presented and provide a diverse overview of the way in which principles of best practice have been implemented by agencies. Themes that emerge from these chapters suggest that mental health needs to be seen as a holistic process and that the involvement of community members is crucial in facilitating recovery and rehabilitation of refugee children. The last section of the book deals with the responses of the international community to the situation of refugee children. Some chapters address the interface between legal concerns and psychosocial issues such as the status of unaccompanied refugee minors and the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Other chapters outline the implications of psychosocial needs of displaced children for refugee policy, in general, highlighting the need for a coordinated effort to take account of health, educational, and social factors in providing adequate assistance to this population.
McConnan, I. and Uppard, S. (2001). Children—Not soldiers: Guidelines for working with child soldiers associated with fighting forces. London: Save the Children UK.
This book provides practical and useful guidance for those working with children involved in armed conflict as well as for managers and policy makers and constitutes a significant resource in the area of assisting child soldiers. These guidelines were commissioned by the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) in 2000 in order to bridge the gap
between the pledges made by the international community: to assist children affected by armed conflict and to deal with the practical reality of children’s lives. They are based on recent experiences of agencies’ work in prevention, demobilization, and reintegration of children involved with fighting forces and are aimed at child protection agencies. The guidelines serve the dual purpose of first providing an overview of issues relating to child soldiers and second as a tool for use in situation analysis, planning and program design, monitoring, and evaluation. The book is divided into three parts. Part 1 addresses the need for a framework for action based on international humanitarian and human rights law and is useful for people responsible for policy development and advocacy work. The second part addresses the operational aspects of preventing children’s recruitment, securing their release or demobilization, and their reintegration into the community. This section includes practical examples of approaches that have been used in different countries. The third part focuses on key areas of organizational policy and practice that agencies should adhere to internally as well as in their relations with communities and other organizations. The role of capacity building, dissemination of information, the participation of children, and ethical concerns are discussed in this section.
Miller, J. (1996). Never too young. How young children can take responsibil ity and make decisions. A handbook for early years workers. London: National Early Years Network.
This handbook is intended as a practical guide for people working with young children (defined as those under age eight) at home, in nursery, in play group, or at school. It promotes the idea that children have a right to be involved in decisions that affect them and is based, among others, on the following principle: children’s learning is active and relies on the opportunity to practice and develop their skills, knowledge, and understanding. They will thus learn to participate by being given the opportunity to do so, starting with simple choices and moving on to more complex decisions as they become ready. Benefits can be far-reaching for adults, children, and society as children learn to express their own needs, consider those of others, and develop skills of cooperation, negotiation, and problem solving. Insights gained from children help adults work more effectively and ensure that services provided are relevant to children’s needs. The book begins with giving adults the opportunity to explore their own beliefs about children and childhood and goes on to encourage them to examine their current practices of letting children make decisions. The final section of the
book explores a range of methods that can be used to find out what is important to children. Techniques are suggested for exploring group issues, such as setting and maintaining rules, resolving conflicts and problems, and making decisions. A guide suggests the appropriate age range for certain activities to help adults decide if particular techniques are suitable for the children they are working with.
Milner, P. and Carolin, B. (Eds.). (1999). Time to listen to children. Per sonal and professional communication. London: Routledge.
This book is based on the idea that in order to give increased recognition to children’s views and perspectives on a range of issues that affect them, adults have to learn what they think, feel, and need. In other words, adults have to listen to them. The contributors to this volume are professionals who come from a variety of disciplines, such as psychology, law, social work, education, and nursing, and all share the conviction and illustrate how they seek to listen to children in their work. Although there is a diversity of theoretical approaches, the Rogerian tradition is used by many of the authors in emphasizing their child-centered approach to working children. Combining genuineness, respect, and empathy in listening creates the possibility for children to take what they need from the ensuing relationship to heal their lives. Examples from settings, such as schools, clinics, and social work departments are taken where professionals explain how they aim to use creative approaches to listening to children, for example, through music and play therapy. Interacting with children in multicultural communities and helping children when they come into contact with the law forms the focus of several chapters of the book.
Myers, R. (1993). Toward a fair start for children. Programming for early childhood care and development in the developing world. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
This paper builds on the idea explained in previous papers that childhood development programs should be expanded beyond the preschool, in other words, to go beyond what has been referred to as the center-based model. To combat the “narrow, piecemeal thinking and action” that dominates the early childhood development field, the author presents a comprehensive programming framework suggesting that an overall vision can aid programmers and planners to identify where and how initiatives fail. The three main dimensions of this framework are, first, the variations in a child’s developmental status as needs will vary during periods of infancy, being a
toddler or a preschooler. Second, five complementary program approaches are outlined that focus in different ways on working with the family, community, institutional, and cultural environments of the child. The third dimension is derived from a set of guidelines that dictate program characteristics. Programs should be comprehensive and integrated, participatory, community-based, flexible, and based on but not restricted to local ways. Programs should also aim to cover as wide a population of at-risk children as possible. The chapter concludes with some examples of various programs from around the world, notably programs that attempt to support parents and teachers in their interactions with children.
Nader, K., Dubrow, N., and Stamm, B.H. (Eds.). (1999). Honoring differences: Cultural issues in the treatment of trauma and loss. In Trauma and loss. Philadelphia: Brunner/Mazel.
The aim of this book is to help mental health professionals move beyond Western conceptions of trauma and its consequences and cures. The uncritical exporting of the Western emphasis on simplistic, quick-fix efforts in the field of traumatology to other parts of the world has led to some situations where more harm than good has been done. This collection of chapters argues that culture must be placed at the center of psychological assistance to avoid viewing war-affected populations through “trauma lenses” that pathologize people and medicalize problems that are political, economic, and cultural. The introductory chapter provides an overview of some of the issues of working with distress and loss in different cultures, for example, ethical considerations, working with a translator, and local healing practices. The remaining chapters are divided into two parts: those focusing on cultures of the United States and those focusing on international cultures. The latter section includes chapters on a psychosocial community approach in Africa, traditional civilization in the North Caucasus, Palestinian perspectives on vulnerability and adaptation, and the consequences of the disintegration of former Yugoslavia. These chapters outline the pertinent cultural, political, historical, and social factors that fundamentally influence and shape the experiences and meaning attached to violent conflict in those regions, emphasizing the important points that outsiders to these regions need to be aware of in order to provide appropriate assistance. Issues of identity, relationships to “others,” and ideology among others are discussed.
Norton, R. and Cohen, B. (2000). Out of exile. Developing youth work with young refugees. Leicester: National Youth Agency.
Youth work was identified by a group of organizations as central to the process of supporting young refugees to integrate into their host societies. A study was therefore conducted into the youth work needs of this group to gain insight into the different types of youth work being provided by different agencies and to assess the range of provision and to understand the young refugees’ views about their own needs and the services provided to them. A broadly qualitative approach was used and a team of interviewers, mainly of refugee origin, was recruited and trained. Group interviews with young refugees were undertaken and key areas were discussed, for instance, early impressions of the UK, how young refugees spend their time, and positive and negative aspects of their lives. The use of youth provision was assessed in the groups and categorized into users and nonusers. The findings suggest that young refugees find their greatest source of support, advice, and help from fellow refugees and that they benefit from being able to meet others from a similar background. Refugee community organizations were also canvassed through the use of postal questionnaires, and interviews were conducted with refugee youth workers. It was concluded that while policy trends place an emphasis on mainstreaming youth services, young refugees were not visible in these services, reflecting a lack of awareness and understanding of the specific needs of young refugees in local authorities. Suggestions for how youth work provision in refugee communities can be developed are given.
Nylund, B.V., Legrand, J.C., and Holtsberg, P. (1999). The role of art in psychosocial care and protection for displaced children. Forced Migration Review,6, 16-19.
This article, written by UNICEF staff, focuses on the role of art in providing psychosocial care and protection to displaced children. In recent years emphasis has increasingly been placed on providing activities for displaced children in order to create a safe and “normal” environment rather than focusing on psychological analysis and treatment. Reestablishing a stable family life and a sense of normalcy is crucial as familiar routines create sense, purpose, and meaning, thereby allowing children to start functioning again as fully as possible. Providing children with nurturing opportunities for expression is also essential. UNICEF therefore tries to utilize existing structures, such as schools, centers for youth, health centers, or child care services to implement their art programs that involve drama,
music, puppetry, and drawing. Art provides a way for sensitive issues to be addressed in a way that is affirmative and easily accessible to children. Every culture has its own form of art to articulate and express feelings. It is thus essential that interventions must be culturally grounded in order to respect and incorporate those beliefs and practices that constitute the framework of local socialization practices. Adolescents, a group that is frequently ignored in programs geared toward children, can also be involved in psychosocial interventions using art. The article concludes with key lessons learned by UNICEF in the implementation of their programs.
PLA Notes (1998). Participatory monitoring and evaluation. PLA Notes, 31, (Special Edition).
This special edition of the PLA Notes is based on a workshop held in November 1997 on participatory evaluation and monitoring. It includes articles on a range of topics, such as the well-known PRA (participatory rapid appraisal) methods of transect walks and chapati (Venn) diagrams and how these impact on boundaries between “expert” and local knowledge, as well as participatory approaches to planning. There are reflections on how participatory approaches have in some settings become mechanistic as organizations try to institutionalize appropriate behavior and attitudes in their training on PRA, thus missing the fundamental point of being open to and hearing the voices of the participants. A discussion of working in groups is the focus of another article that reflects on the fact that communities are not homogenous entities but contain a diversity of interest groups whose opinions may better be heard when they participate in separate groups. Minority views are heard when groups are differentiated by gender and age but such initiatives must come from the communities themselves rather than being imposed by trainers. The regular features of the PLA Notes include tips for trainers on specific techniques and the publication of new materials.
Pretty, J., Guijt, I., Thompson, J., and Scoones, I. (1995). A trainer’s guide for participatory learning and action. London: International Institute for Environmental and Development.
This guide is designed for both experienced and new trainers who wish to train others in the use of participatory research methods. The aim of this manual is to help others develop the skills and capacities to use participatory methods in a sensitive manner. The first part of the guide provides information about the basics of interactive training and focuses on the prin
cipal roles, skills, and techniques that a trainer/facilitator should consider before undertaking training activity. The management of group dynamics and the building of interdisciplinary teams are discussed and a summary of the principles of participatory learning is given. Three different methods of participatory research (semi-structured interviewing, visualization and diagramming methods, and ranking methods) are explained in more detail, and the complexities of conducting research in real-life situations are examined. The second part of the book consists of 101 exercises for use in workshop settings and in the field. These are organized into sections and include foci on issues, such as analyzing data, performing evaluation, and ideas for employing specific methods. This manual provides an overview of why participatory research approaches are essential in development work, as well as giving tried-and-tested exercises and games that can be used in training situations.
Punamaki, R.-L. (2000). How to help children experiencing traumatic stress? An evaluation of long-term effects of psychosocial assistance and international solidarity work. Saarijarvi, Finland: STAKES.
This report examines the issue of effectiveness of psychosocial assistance programs for victims of human rights abuses by analyzing the case study of a Chilean-Finnish cooperative project. The project provided support to Chilean families who had lost family members during the military dictatorship in 1973-1989. The diverse programs and interventions that formed part of the initiative are presented and include a social work unit, physical health programs, a mental health team, and a pedagogic unit that cared for children’s school performance. The evaluation focuses on issues of relevance, efficiency, and sustainability, and highlights some of the conflicts and problems experienced by the Finnish and Chilean partners of the cooperative. The long-term benefits that the main recipients of the assistance—the Chilean children—had been able to obtain are examined by comparing them to other children who had had similar experiences but had not received this assistance. The study proposes that well-being and empowerment can be measured by evaluating the recipients’ current educational and professional achievements; the family atmosphere; coping strategies; and their general mental health. The findings suggest that the assistance provided had a positive impact on the recipients’ coping and family resources, as well as on their educational achievements. The author concludes that it is important for intervention programs to have specific and concrete aims that should be based on knowledge about how children
respond to trauma. In addition, the provision of comprehensive services, as was the case with this particular project, and a flexible approach to meeting the needs of victims of human rights abuses are highlighted.
Radda Barnen (1997). Children with disability in programs directed at children affected by armed conflict. Stockholm: Swedish Save the Children.
This paper focuses on how children with disabilities are dealt with in the UNHCR’s Guidelines on Protection and Care of Refugee Children. It was written to promote the inclusion of these children in UNHCR activities and to raise awareness among NGOs and other organizations of the importance of including children with disabilities in all programs aimed at children in armed conflict. In the preceding decade, an estimated 6 million children have been seriously or permanently injured as a direct result of armed conflict who are considered to be even more vulnerable in refugee situations than other children. Little documentation exists about children who are injured and become disabled, and they are often forgotten and excluded from general development and emergency aid as they may be unable to access these services. The paper argues that a multifaceted approach is necessary that is grounded in a social model rather than a medical model of disability and that stresses the right of children with disabilities to participate in mainstream activities. Rather than addressing the situation of these children as a separate chapter in UNHCR Guidelines, it is suggested that their special needs be integrated into all services provided to children in general. Community-based rehabilitation that has at its core the social integration, participation, and empowerment of people with disabilities, is discussed as a model that promotes the need for communities and societies to become open to all of its members, including those with disabilities. Promoting a positive attitude toward children and adults with disabilities forms part of this process.
Refugee Participation Network (1997). Children and youth. Refugee Par ticipation Network,24.
This edition of the journal published by the Refugee Studies Center (Oxford, UK) contains a number of short articles focusing on children and young people in situations of conflict. Protection issues are addressed by a UNICEF representative as well as Ulla Blomqvist who stress the need for developing practical strategies that facilitate the application of legal norms aimed at securing the rights of children. The situation of children in Angola and Sierra Leone receive special attention in an article by Mary Diaz, the
director of the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children. Promoting psychosocial well-being among children is discussed in several articles that also provide short examples of approaches used by projects. One such approach, the establishment of youth centers, is discussed as a positive way in which the energy and creativity of young people can be used to facilitate not only their protection but also their social integration and development. The edition of Refugee Participation Network, now called Forced Migration Review, also contains useful information about publications, conference reports, and links to other relevant information in the field.
Ressler, E., Boothby, N., and Steinbock, D. (1988). Unaccompanied chil dren. Care and protection in wars, natural disasters and refugee movements. New York: Oxford University Press.
This book had an important influence on the field in its time as it was one of the first studies to address the psychological impact of separation on children in disaster and conflict situations. The fate of separated children in emergencies is frequently determined by their circumstances and the assistance provided or not provided to them. Intervention on behalf of these children is necessary and in the opinion of the authors, experience, psychology, and law should guide these efforts. The book is therefore divided into three sections. The first reviews the history of unaccompanied children in selected past emergencies, such as World War II, the Nigerian Civil War and the Vietnam War, identifying common patterns, recurring problems and the lessons learned. The second section addresses psychological perspectives on factors that can increase or decrease the vulnerability of children. In this section normal patterns of psychological and social development are discussed, as well as the effects of separation and trauma on children. The final section examines comparative and international law as it pertains to actions that can be taken to assist separated children.
Ressler, E., Tortorici, J., and Marcelino, A. (1993). Children in war. A guide to the provision of services. New York: UNICEF.
This book provides an overview of the impact of armed conflict on children, the special needs they have as a consequence, and the types of interventions that are being adopted around the world to meet these needs. It provides a conceptual framework that can be used for assessment and programmatic decisions in the field. This framework is based on a number of premises, such as children’s needs are served best by helping families
provide the necessary care and protection children require, and that local problems are often best solved by local solutions. Children as zones of peace are discussed as well as the importance of promoting this approach among all agents in order to improve the protection and well-being of children. The second half of the book considers different types of effects of conflict on children and what is being done to counter these. Injury, malnutrition, disability, and illness are considered, as well as issues of torture, abuse, imprisonment, and recruitment into armed groups. The authors emphasize the fact that children’s interests are best served when adults attempt to understand realities as children see them, perspectives that may be different from what adults assume. Children deserve respect as they have ideas, opinions, and coping strategies. They are not simply beings to be fed, injected, moved, or sheltered.
Revell, B. (2000). Playing with rainbows: A manual. Toronto: YWCA Canada.
This manual guides facilitators who wish to use the Playing with Rainbows program with refugee children. The program was designed as a 12-session children’s group that provides normalization, support, and education to the children and encourages the development of their coping skills. It also contains sessions for the caregivers who may need information and assistance in order to enable them to support the children’s participation in the group, as well as how to cope with certain difficult situations that may arise. The use of play, music, storytelling, puppetry, artwork, developmental considerations, listening skills, and group dynamics are discussed, and ideas are given for how they can be applied to facilitate coping skills and feelings of self-esteem. This manual is more oriented toward a “therapeutic” style of intervention by having specific numbers of sessions and recommended topics and worksheets than can be covered, and it is intended for use in settings where certain resources are available, such as space to create a “cozy corner” for children, and the use of tape recorders and stationery. Ideas contained in this manual may, however, be adaptable to other settings and provide impetus for how certain topics may be addressed by adults who work with children affected by war and displacement. It also gives an overview of the broad range of issues that refugee children may encounter when they move to another country where the culture differs from their own.
Richman, N. (1993). Communicating with children. Helping children in distress.London: Save the Children UK.
This useful manual has been used widely by practitioners in the field. It aims to help those working with children in conflict and emergencies to develop their communication and listening skills; to increase the confidence in their ability to gain children’s trust; to cope with the painful emotions and difficult behavior they may show when under stress; and to identify children who need extra help. It is written for professionals and paraprofessionals who are developing services and are training and supervising others who help children in situations of conflict or social crisis. The manual discusses practical problems that arise when talking with children, such as building trust, what to do when a child becomes upset while talking, and how to give practical and emotional support. Being a good listener and a good communicator, especially with children, is a skill that has to be learned. Several sections of the manual are devoted to basic skills of communication, such as how to listen and encourage others to express themselves, how children communicate, and what to do about blocks in communication. These are followed by some ideas on giving comfort, making a plan together, and ending a conversation. Suggestions are given on how to support children who have suffered loss, separation, or disability. Finally, working with groups of children and talking with the family and other caregivers are explored.
Richman, N. (1996). Principles of help for children involved in organized violence.London: Save the Children UK.
This paper is based on the author’s many years of experience in the field of psychosocial assistance. It discusses the principles and assumptions that should underlie support offered to children affected by political violence. It explores various aspects of providing psychosocial help to children and provides a basis for planning and initiating projects. Models of psychosocial assistance need to be culturally relevant as variations in how people make sense of their world and confront difficulties are important to understanding the effects of violence and the best means of supporting those affected. The risk of imposing foreign models is exemplified by the current overemphasis on the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which does not take into account the range of adversities confronted nor the traditional ways of responding to them. Actions of aid organizations can weaken the potential that people have for self-help and initiatives, and the report suggests that the professionalization of support to children should
be avoided. Instead, a preventive approach that makes use of community resources is best suited for providing psychosocial support. Its aim should be to provide a stable and supportive environment that moderates the effects of suffering and promotes development. The working paper provides an overview and critique of approaches to psychosocial assistance given to children while clearly arguing for and substantiating the concluding principles it suggests should guide work of this nature.
Richman, N. (1998). In the midst of the whirlwind: A manual for helping refugee children. Stoke on Trent, UK: Trentham Books.
This manual is aimed at service providers working with refugee children in Northern countries, such as teachers, social workers, community groups, health visitors, and psychologists. It is divided into two sections— the first part giving an overview of the experiences of refugees including aspects that particularly affect children and families, for example, separation, generational differences, and issues of integration into the new society. The second part gives helpful suggestions for providing support for children and families. The need for good communication skills is stressed and some of the issues of working with an interpreter are discussed. The last five chapters of the book focus on the central role that schooling plays in enhancing the well-being of refugee children and highlight the potential difficulties that may initially be experienced as children attempt to integrate into an education system that may be different from the previous one. The beneficial effects of creative activities, such as drama, art, and sport, are emphasized and examples are given. The manual is designed for use as a basis for discussion and training and provides case examples as well as suggestions for further debate at the end of each chapter. It contributes to increasing sensitivity to the needs of refugees and gives some practical guidelines that facilitate the creation of a supportive environment in which these needs can be addressed.
Richman, N. and Pereira, D. (1992). Helping children in difficult circum stances. A teacher’s manual. London: Save the Children UK.
This manual was prepared by the Department of Special Education in the Ministry of Education in Mozambique for use in its program to help children affected by war. It was originally intended for use exclusively with children who had been directly affected by the conflict but it was then concluded that it would be valuable for all teachers and children throughout the country. The guiding principle of the manual is that the teacher-
pupil relationship is the most important resource for assisting children, especially when they have problems with learning or adjusting to school. The manual aims to transmit useful knowledge to the teacher so that he or she can recognize and understand the effects of war and social conflicts on a child’s development and feelings and to suggest means of support that can be used in the school, the family, and community to help pupils with different kinds of difficulty. Different sections address a number of issues, such as children’s normal development, the effects of death and separation on children, and include some creative ideas for activities with children. All sections reinforce the importance of the teacher-pupil relationship. Examples of true cases from Mozambique’s provinces are given, and it is stressed that the manual does not seek to provide a “single cure” for all problems as solutions must be based on practical possibilities and the specific situation in each place. In seeking to support children affected by adversity, it is vital to remain flexible and open to the children’s needs as well as the context within which they find themselves.
Russell, R. and Greenman, J. (2001). What happened to the world? and Helping children cope in turbulent times. New York: Bright Horizons, Chase, Mercy Corps, Dougy Center.
The aim of these two booklets is to provide adults with information about how the attack on the Twin Towers in New York on September 11, 2001, affected children and to provide guidance for how adults can help children deal with what the authors describe as events that have threatened children’s sense of security. The main booklet describes common emotional reactions to traumatic events and common changes in behavior that may occur in children of different age groups. The authors point out that in the vast majority of cases these reactions will disappear as the child and the family readjust to the situation. Where this is not the case, they suggest that outside help in the form of a religious leader or mental health worker may be appropriate. The booklet outlines what children need from adults in order to make this readjustment shortly after the traumatic events, such as providing a peaceful household, being available, answering questions honestly and in an age-appropriate manner, respecting differences in children’s responses, and encouraging consistency and everyday routines, among others. A section of the booklet is devoted to possible ways of answering the questions that children can have about issues, such as terrorism, retaliation, the drafting of a family member into military service, and death. The accompanying facilitator’s guide is aimed at individuals who seek to provide
parents, professionals, and volunteers working with children with strategies for supporting children in a crisis. The user-friendly format includes facilitation tips, overheads, handouts, and step-by-step outlines for the session. Building respect and tolerance forms an important objective of this guide and provides possible scenarios of different types of questions that can be asked by the participants in regard to political conflict.
Rutter, J. and Hyder, T. (1998). Refugee children in the early years: Issues for policy-makers and providers. London: Save the Children UK.
This report about early years provision for refugee children was written by experienced authors who have worked with refugee children in the UK for many years. Its specific aim is to assess if refugee families have equal access to services for young children in the UK. The conclusion reached is that this is not the case even though the need for early childhood services may be greater among refugee families than in the population as a whole due to the multiple and complex needs caused by poverty, benefit restrictions, and poor quality accommodation. Research was undertaken in two phases: an analysis of source material followed by field research in local authorities in Britain. Asylum seekers and refugee children may have special health care needs, including psychological needs, which may be met in part through providing opportunities for organized and supported play. Experiences suggest that racial harassment is common and that refugee children have particular linguistic needs both in learning English and in maintaining and developing their home languages. Adult refugee parents are more likely to be in need of early years provision as they may wish to engage in fulltime education and may have lost their informal support networks. The report suggests that refugee families may not have equal access to services due to lack of information, frequent moves, unwelcoming services, concern about placing children with caregivers who do not speak the child’s home language, and a lack of familiarity with such services. Local authorities often lack clear interdepartmental planning and coordination of services and insufficient consultation between early years providers and refugee community groups takes place. Recommendations as to how to overcome these are made. While this report focuses specifically on the UK, lessons can be learned from the information provided about the potential barriers to equal access experienced by refugee families.
Rutter, J. and Hyder, T. (2001). Supporting refugee children in 21st century Britain. A compendium of essential information. London: Trentham Books.
This book written by the National Education Advisor of the Refugee Council in Britain focuses on how refugee children can be supported in schools. An overview of the various policies that have informed the existing education policy for refugee students is given—with reference to the various levels of operation at which the policy is salient—namely at the classroom, school, and local authority levels. Funding options for refugee support work in education are discussed and case examples of schools are given where various schemes such as refugee support teachers are being implemented. The admission and induction of refugee children into school is discussed in a separate chapter that asks a series of questions that schools can put to themselves regarding their policies in these areas. The issue of language support is central to helping refugee children integrate and this is discussed under two separate chapters: one on English-language support and one on home-language maintenance and development. Practical recommendations are made about how this can be achieved. The need to challenge racism and xenophobia in schools receives attention and suggestions, such as effective monitoring and sanctions, using the curriculum to promote diversity and equality, and multiagency are presented. Links between the school, home, and community form the focus of another chapter, and specific groups of refugee children are discussed separately, for instance, adolescents, unaccompanied children, and very young refugee children. The book concludes with an overview of the main refugee groups in the UK, providing information about ethnic groups, languages, names, religions, education systems, and causes of flight in the countries of origin. This book is oriented toward a British audience but contains practical suggestions and guidelines for good practice on refugee integration into the host educational system that may be usefully applied in other countries.
Save the Children Alliance (1996). Promoting psychosocial well-being among children affected by armed conflict and displacement: Principles and approaches. International Save the Children Alliance,14.
This significant document outlines the principles of psychosocial work in situations of armed conflict. It is intended for organizations that seek to develop best practice and has been widely used in the field. The report argues that in regard to psychosocial work there is a need for the reintegration of individuals back into their communities rather than segregation for specialized treatment that could lead to further marginalization of these groups. For example, it is better not to segregate groups, such as the elderly, the disabled, the abandoned, and child soldiers when one provides assis
tance to them. In regard to unaccompanied children the overriding consideration must be to try and reunite them with their families. Fostering is usually preferable to institutions of interim care but require a community-based system of monitoring. Residential child-care centers may actually increase and prolong unnecessary separations, as these institutions may have a vested interest in their own survival. The paper outlines seven principles that field workers should be aware of. These include the use of a long-term perspective that includes the psychosocial well-being of children (for example, through vocational training or skills training); the adoption of a community-based approach that promotes self-help and builds on local culture, realities, and perceptions of child development; the encouragement of normal family and everyday life in order to reinforce a child’s natural resilience; and a focus on primary care and prevention of further harm in the healing of the children’s psychological wounds. Providing support and training for personnel who care for children and ensuring clarity on ethical issues are also defined as important principles.
Save the Children UK (1995). Toolkits. A practical guide to assessment, monitoring, review, and evaluation. London: Author.
This manual is designed to help humanitarian aid workers assess, monitor, review, and evaluate their work in a systematic way. The techniques and approaches described here assist in the strategic planning process by providing some means of decision making in changing circumstances in a systematic way. The book is divided into three sections. The first focuses on some general issues that are relevant to all assessment, monitoring, and evaluation activities. Some underlying principles are discussed, for example, involving all relevant people; recognizing and dealing with differences and discrimination; and being systematic about the analysis and collection of information. Section two addresses practical questions that must be addressed during the processes of monitoring and evaluation in order to avoid common problems. Questions such as: what are the objectives of the exercise; what information is needed and where can it be obtained; what indicators should be used to measure the impact and progress of work need to be asked at the outset of the process. The final section of the book provides tools for conducting the monitoring and evaluation. It describes the approaches used in participatory assessment, logical framework analysis, and cost-effectiveness analysis, among others. Finally, some examples of evaluation are given, as well as ideas for how feedback can be represented. This manual is a highly practical tool for humanitarian aid workers who can
select particular approaches that suit the specific issues to be addressed. The fact that development work rarely conforms to the ideal models found in textbooks is taken into account and the examples given demonstrate how some of the tools need to be adapted to local circumstances.
Save the Children UK (1997). Keeping children with families in emergen cies. London: Author.
This report of an interagency meeting held in Nairobi in 1997 brought together practitioners and policy makers working in various emergency situations around the world in order to discuss issues affecting separated children. Concern has been mounting about the difficulties of implementing principles of best practice in four areas of work with separated children: the prevention of separation, interagency collaboration and coordination, fostering, and reunification and reintegration. The meeting produced a set of practical recommendations in each of these priority areas. The main guiding principle is to protect children from harm and often this implies preventing child separation and counteracting voluntary separation. Guidelines for situations in which evacuation of children from conflict zones is necessary are also given. The benefits and problems with formal and informal fostering were discussed, and the dangers of relief interventions changing traditional fostering arrangements were noted. Principles concerned with the reunification and reintegration of separated children emphasized the necessity for guaranteeing the continuing protection of children’s rights beyond emergencies to ensure that existing structures can act as focal points for ongoing child protection activities. The meeting also addressed the problems of establishing effective interagency collaboration to initiate tracing and reunification programs and the need to strengthen working relationships between international and national NGOs. The report provides useful information and guidance on how agencies can ensure best practice in their work with separated children, taking into account the practical considerations and existing problems in emergency situations.
Save the Children UK (1999). Learning from experience—Children and violence. London: Child Rights Information Network.
This collection of short articles is part of an ongoing initiative by Save The Children to learn from experience, this particular edition focusing on violence against children. Examples are given of what Save the Children has been doing around the world to prevent violence against children and to speed their recovery where violence has already happened. In Kosovo an
initiative was undertaken to build a cross-ethnic grouping of children’s and human rights NGOs working together to defend the rights of all children in that province. In Columbia the organization set up a working group of child soldiers that aims to design and implement a resettlement program for former child fighters with a special emphasis on vocational training. A reunification program in Rwanda is discussed as well as the strategy in this country to strengthen and improve existing institutions. An article on Liberia stresses the importance of educational activities for children affected by the conflict. This latter theme is developed further in a discussion on basic education, which is defined as a combination of competencies, knowledge, skills, and attitudes that form the foundation of any individual’s life-long learning. The “Minimum Requirements Package,” a list of life, development, and learning skills that every child needs was developed and is included in this article. The collection concludes with a report on the situation of separated refugee children in the UK.
Save the Children UK (2000). Young people as researchers. A learning resource pack. London: Author.
The aim of this training pack is to provide materials for workers training young people in participatory research. It is designed to complement the manual by Perpetua Kirby entitled Involving Young Researchers. The exercises contained in this training pack have been drawn from a number of sources and are designed for those training young people, not for young people themselves. The exercises and handouts and accompanying information sheets provide a range of resources that can be used to develop young people’s competence in preparing, planning, and conducting research. The training pack is divided into several sections. Section one offers an introduction to the materials and guidance on how to approach the exercises. Section two consists of a list of identified competencies, and section three contains the actual exercises, providing additional information on research issues, methods, analysis and report writing, and learners needs and evaluation. The final section provides some theoretical background and identifies some of the key issues in training, describing some of the influences behind current training practices. When selecting methods and choosing exercises, it is important to consider the learning objectives to be achieved. Save The Children has developed a set of key indicators of good practice that have to be met when undertaking a social research project. The issue of competency is central in determining appropriate exercises, as well as the learning objectives and several exercises may meet different com
petencies and a number of learning objective. Handouts and information sheets supplement several exercises and an estimated time for completing the exercises are given.
Save the Children UK (2001). Breaking through the clouds. A participatory action research (PRA) project with migrant children and youth along the bor ders of China, Myanmar, and Thailand. London: Author.
Limited information is available on migrant children and youth in the cross-border areas in China, Myanmar, and Thailand. Little awareness exists as to their concerns and needs and few interventions are undertaken to reach out to them. Save The Children therefore initiated this participatory action research project with the aim of understanding the complex circumstances and perspectives of migrant youth to develop appropriate interventions for and with them. Field researchers were recruited from local communities and trained in the use of qualitative research tools that involved listening to the children and young people, thereby empowering them to define their own problems and initiate appropriate interventions. The activities used encouraged participation, capacity building, and self-esteem. The report emphasized the importance of using a participatory approach to research with young people that requires flexibility and remains inclusive of ethnic diversity and marginalized groups. The cross-border collaboration proved particularly worthwhile as this contributed toward building partnerships that break down discriminating attitudes. Effective interventions should include the development of skills among local community members that allow them to take an active role in conducting research and should focus on areas such as the protection and safe return of migrants as well as on the development of basic outreach and emergency services for the most vulnerable. Advocacy and public policy should address, among other things, the cross-border networks that are in existence in the region. Groups of children that are particularly vulnerable are identified and strategies identified to link some of these into existing service provision.
Save the Children UK (2001). Children and participation: Research, moni toring and evaluation with children and young people. London: Author.
This book provides an overview of the issues involved in participatory information gathering in the process of research, monitoring, and evaluation with children and young people. It investigates good practice and ethics in relation to when children’s participation is appropriate, working with disabled children, and tackling diversity in a sensitive manner. Different
research methods are presented, for example, the use of visual techniques, role playing, drawing, writing, group techniques, story boards, and interviewing. The involvement of children and young people in different parts of the research process is discussed in more detail and issues, such as skills training, language needs, establishing ground rules, and confidence levels are addressed. Young people can also be involved in the dissemination of the research results through various innovative ways. Participatory monitoring and evaluation is a process shaped primarily by stakeholders who are asked to analyze a project or program that affects them and to seek points of action. The book investigates how young people as stakeholders can be included as equal participants in the processes of evaluation and monitoring. Planning and setting indicators, choosing participatory tools, and evaluating the process upon completion are all discussed. Core texts on participatory research with children are listed and other sources of information are given.
Save the Children UK (2001). Creative force. Arts-based exercises for work with young people around issues of violence. London: Author.
This resource pack has been produced as part of the Young People and Violence project set up by Save the Children in the UK. The project uses an arts-based approach, through a targeted program of youth work, to focus on issues of conflict and violence. Drama, photography, video, poetry, and creative writing were used to broaden understanding of conflict and violence among both young people and youth workers and to develop young people’s personal and social skills. Young people experience a range of day-to-day challenges around issues of gender, ability, culture, or being outside of mainstream schooling provision, and they discuss bullying, domestic violence, gang attacks, and mental health problems as issues that affect them directly. The value of using arts to understand and begin to address violent behavior is presented in this book, as this approach allows young people self-expression as well as the opportunities to present views that they have not previously considered. The manual offers general guidelines to youth workers on addressing the subject of violence with young people before they embark on specific activities. The four art forms mentioned above are then discussed in more detail and activities are suggested for how they can be implemented with young people. The final section lists additional resources and organizations that may provide additional resources in helping youth workers address issues of violence and conflict.
Save the Children UK (2001). In safe hands. A resource and training pack to support work with young refugee children. London: Author.
This resource pack was developed to support asylum-seeking and refugee children in early years settings and schools. It aims to provide a framework for working with these children by providing essential background information on the lives of asylum seekers and refugees in the UK and beyond. Throughout the manual, suggestions are given as to how refugee children can be supported at both policy and a practical level. Two schools in London that were selected for their particularly good practice in their work with young refugees and their families and serve as a concrete example of how the principles discussed in this manual can be implemented in real life situations. Various issues, such as welcoming new arrivals, racism, the role of early years services, and language and identity are discussed by different experts in the field and practical guidance is given for how to deal with them. Training materials are included in the pack to enable trainers to run their own inservice training on working with refugee children, and a video, filmed in the two London schools mentioned above, shows children explaining their experiences and how sensitive educational support has a made a difference to them. The materials can be flexibly adapted according to the training needs required.
Save the Children UK (2001). Reaction. Consultation toolkit. London: Author.
This toolkit is a practical guide on how to consult children and young people on policy-related issues. It was developed for community workers, youth workers, teachers, local authority workers, facilitators, and other organizations and individuals working with young people and is based on the principle that children and young people have the right to participate in decisions that affect their lives, the lives of their community, and the larger society in which they live. The objectives of the toolkit are to help ensure consistency and quality in consultations and participatory activities while taking into account the diversity of groups during youth programs in Scotland. It provides a summary of the different approaches and methods of participation in relation to policy consultations and presents specific case studies of different examples of participation with young people. The document is divided into ten main sections, addressing issues such as the principles of consultation, preparing for consultation, techniques and tools that can be used, ways of transferring ideas and information, and suggestions for good practice. Qualitative and quantitative approaches are discussed
and techniques included are questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, participatory appraisal, visual methods, and evaluation methods. This toolkit can also be used by young people who are involved in carrying out consultations with their peer groups.
Save the Children US (2002). Mothers and children in war and conflict. State of the world’s mothers 2002 (# 44). Connecticut, USA: Author.
This State of the World’s Mothers report provides an overview of the challenges facing mothers and children during and after armed conflict. Modern day wars take a brutal toll on millions of mothers and children, stripping them of the basic necessities of life and leaving them defenseless against hunger, injury, disease, forced military servitude, abuse, and sexual exploitation. The report documents the inextricable link—in wartime and in peacetime—between a mother’s well-being and the survival and well-being of her children. With access to certain basic tools and resources, mothers can minimize the physical and psychological damage of war on their children. These tools include education, economic opportunities, and maternal and child health care, including family planning and psychosocial support. A major conclusion of the report is that investing in mothers is the key to building peace and long-term change as mothers often play defining roles in helping communities move from disaster to development. Providing mothers with access to education, health care and livelihoods is an essential contribution to rebuilding war-torn societies and creating lasting change for children and communities. The report also provides a Mothers’ Index that compares the well-being of mothers and children in 105 countries and where Niger, Burkina Faso, and Guinea-Bissau are shown to provide the least opportunities to mothers.
Schembri, G. (1997).Liberia’s ex-child fighters: A narrative account of the work of Save the Children Fund, UK in Liberia.London: Save the Children UK.
Education and skills training is seen as essential for the successful reintegration of former child soldiers. Save the Children has developed a new curriculum for use in four of its seven transit centers around Liberia that are pertinent to individual needs. A two-tier education program was developed and runs in five blocks of six weeks. It is for beginners (up to primary school level) and advanced level for those who reached a higher level of education. Due to short attention spans, academic studies are normally interspersed with other activities, such as drama, sports, and singing. Be
cause of the children’s restlessness they are able to opt in and out of classes but are encouraged to stay in one class for a six-week period. The aim of this approach is to provide the children with the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills in the meantime until they are reunited with their families.
Segerstrom, E. (1994). From exposed to involved. An action-oriented study of Somali refugee mothers’ psychological well-being and their sense of compe tence to care for their children.Stockholm: Radda Barnen.
This report focuses on the psychological well-being of refugee mothers and their sense of competence to care for their children. It is based on a survey conducted in a refugee camp in Yemen and is divided into two parts. The first part describes a study conducted with the Somali women and the difficulties they face in the refugee camp. The results indicate that the women are continuing to suffer from stress due to their daily worries about their families, their own survival, and the future. The report suggests that there is a significant correlation between mothers’ sense of competence to care for their children, the amount of stress experienced in the past, their present concerns and experiences of illness and well-being. This indicates the need and importance of support to refugee mothers and to establish as far as possible normal family and community life. The second part of the report outlines the basic principles of community development that can be used to promote the psychosocial well-being of mothers and children in the camp. It concentrates on social welfare activities and on ways of increasing community support to the children and support to their mothers through active involvement in the community.
Segerstrom, E. (1995). Focus on refugee children. A handbook for training field refugee workers in social and community work.Stockholm: Radda Barnen.
This handbook is based on the assumption that in order to improve the conditions and well-being of children in refugee camps, agencies need to strengthen and restore social support systems by mobilizing community resources. Rather than emphasizing the role of experts in assisting children, the author suggests that it is the daily attention and care from those close to the child that is more important. Training is frequently needed to enhance the community’s knowledge about what their children may need from them in the new situation in which they find themselves. The manual is thus divided into two parts. The first part gives an introductory background to social and community work theory, stressing the importance of promoting
community participation in initiatives, and the factors that help refugee children overcome distressing experiences, such as adult support, daily structure, and play. Two short examples of successful programs are given, a psychosocial program in Afghanistan and an educational program in Yemen. The second part of the handbook consists of two sets of training material: one on community mobilization, and the other on child-oriented activities. Suggestions for training sessions on a number of issues are given, for example, on how to stimulate babies in camps, how to talk with children about death, and for conducting needs assessments. A practical guide for community workers, the manual addresses psychosocial issues affecting refugee children within a social work context.
Shaw, J. and Harris, J. (1994). Children of war and children at war: Child victims of terrorism in Mozambique. Pp. 287-305 in R. Ursano, B. McCaughey, and C. Fullerton (Eds.), Individual and community responses to trauma and disaster : The structure of human chaos. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
This chapter describes a program initiated in Mozambique to assist children who had been captured by armed units and forced into military activities against their will. The objective of this transitional psychosocial program was to reduce psychiatric morbidity and promote the child’s developmental and adaptive capacities. In Phase I of the program an immediate assessment of the physical status of the child, as well as his or her exposure to traumatic events. The child’s definition and understanding of these experiences were also determined. In Phase II the child participates in a therapeutic residential treatment setting where he or she is integrated into a schedule of activities that include schooling, sports, and social activities. Play, art, dance, and theatre are used as means for expressing emotions, and for older children group therapeutic sessions are organized. Phase III focuses on the reintegration of the child into the community, either to his or her family or to another setting, such as a foster home placement. The program described aimed to normalize the daily activities of the children in a safe and secure environment in order to restore the momentum of developmental and psychosocial progress. While the chapter draws on psychological and psychiatric terminology to describe the effects of brutalization on the children, it draws attention to issues that pertain to the small group of children who have been so severely affected by their experiences that they may not be helped sufficiently by general community-based programs.
Smith, P., Perrin, S., Yule, W., Hacam, B., and Stuvland, R. (2002). War exposure among children from Bosnia-Herzegovina: Psychological adjustment in a community sample. Journal of Traumatic Stress,15(2), 147-156.
As part of a UNICEF psychosocial program during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, data was collected from a community sample of 2,976 children aged between 9 and 14 years. The children completed self-report measures that assessed the presence of posttraumatic stress symptoms, depression, anxiety, and grief, as well as a report of the amount of their own exposure to war-related violence. Results show that children reported high levels of PTSD symptoms and grief reactions. However, their levels of depression and anxiety were not higher than similar levels recorded in countries not affected by war. This seems to indicate that the majority of children were able to cope in the face of adversity, and it is possible that this was facilitated by when the whole community is affected and able to pull together to survive, as was the case here. Girls reported more distress than boys but age difference did not reveal significant differences in distress reported. The findings of the study are reported in relation to the UNICEF program that was instituted in order to assist these children.
Stanley, K. (2001). Cold comfort. Young separated refugees in England. London: Save the Children UK.
Save The Children carried out a study into the lives of young asylum seekers and refugees who had been separated from their parents or usual caregivers. The research was conducted with young asylum seekers as well as with professionals working with these young people in order to identify the constraints on and opportunities for the services provided to them. Legally, unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children have the same entitlements to education, health care, and the rights enshrined in the Children Act as citizen children. However, the findings of this report suggest that a significant number of young separated children had chaotic and disturbing experiences on arrival and received little or no support. Many of the young refugees had a substantial wait for their initial asylum decision and as a result experienced great anxiety and were unable to plan for their future. Especially 16- and 17-year olds were disadvantaged by a lack of service provision as most of them are not placed in public care as a matter of policy and many live in poor quality housing or inappropriate accommodation. Experiences of bullying and harassment were frequently reported. The report concludes that despite their resilience and apparent maturity, young separated refugees deserve and require improvements in
the standard of care and protection they receive. The findings highlight a number of gaps in the provision of services and detailed recommendations are made on action to improve the situation.
Stubbs, P. and Soroya, B. (1996). War trauma, psycho-social projects and social development in Croatia. Medicine, Conflict and Survival,12,303-314.
This article looks at the way in which concepts of “war trauma” and posttraumatic stress disorder are being used within psychosocial projects in Croatia, in the context of the wars in the Yugoslav succession and largescale forced migration. Psychosocial discourses are analyzed, and an “internal” critique as well as an “external” critique are presented. The “internal” critique focuses on issues of consistency, pointing out that critical and complex notions of identity and ethnicity are ignored by many agencies in the Croatian context, with ready-made programs being implemented instead. The authors argue that the theory and practice of psychosocial interventions continues to be based on a model that labels and pathologizes the “sick victims” needing to be cured. The “external” critique addresses the fact that specialist mental health projects in Croatia have often been developed and promoted at the neglect of human rights. Two elements of human rights are vital in the terms of recovery and healing: namely the conditions faced by, and treatment of, refugees and displaced people and the absence of a code of conduct and complaints’ procedures relating to those working with refugees and the displaced. The importance of social development projects as an alternative to those projects that rely on narrow psychosocial interventions are discussed.
Summerfield, D. (1999). A critique of seven assumptions behind psychological trauma programs in war-affected areas. Social Science & Medicine, 48, 1449-1462.
This article focuses on the increasing number of programs seeking to address posttraumatic distress that are becoming increasingly prominent in humanitarian aid operations. This reflects a globalization of Western cultural trends toward the medicalization of distress and the rise of psychological therapies. The assumptions underpinning this work are critiqued with particular reference to Bosnia and Rwanda and include notions about the large scale of traumatized people, the need to “work through” traumatic experiences, and the identification of particularly vulnerable groups. The
author argues that for the vast majority of survivors posttraumatic stress is a pseudocondition, a reframing of the understandable suffering of war as a technical problem to which short-term technical solutions like counseling are applied. These concepts aggrandize the Western agencies and their “experts” who from afar define the condition and bring the cure. There is no evidence that war-affected populations are seeking these imported approaches, which appear to ignore their own traditions, meaning systems, and active priorities. One basic question in humanitarian operations is: whose knowledge is privileged and who has the power to define the problem? What is fundamental is the role of a social world, invariably targeted in today’s “total” war and yet still embodying the collective capacity of survivor populations to mourn, endure, and rebuild.
Summerfield, D. (2000). Childhood, war, refugeedom and ‘trauma’: Three core questions for mental health professionals. Transcultural Psychia try,37(3), 417-433.
The discourse of trauma has increasingly become a dominant conceptualization of suffering in the West. In the past few years, Western mental health professionals have become involved in providing services to war-affected populations in largely non-Western war zones and have applied an essentially medical framework to the experiences of these groups of people. This article queries to what extent experiences of war can be reduced to a matter of mental health by asking three core questions: (1) How can the predicament of refugee children be framed? (2) Can it be assumed that war and displacement render children psychologically vulnerable? and (3) Should the distressing memories of refugee children be “worked through”? In discussing these questions the author concludes that most distress is normal and a form of adaptive communication and that local understandings and frameworks of suffering should be used in the vast majority of cases. Reducing experiences of children to a question of mental health tends to focus on vulnerability in individual psychological terms rather than social ones. It is, however, the economic, educational, and sociocultural rebuilding of worlds that will determine the long-term well-being of child survivors of war worldwide. The notion that healing has to be an expert-led process is questionable. The article provides a critical discussion of some of the underlying ideas used to justify a trauma approach to war-related suffering and questions the “inevitability” of conceptualizing distress in this manner.
Tefferi, H. (1999). Psychosocial needs of children in armed conflict and displacement. A module for training teachers and caregivers.Stockholm: Radda Barnen.
This manual is directed at teachers who work with children affected by armed conflict and displacement. It introduces the area of “psychosocial needs” to teachers by helping them understand how war affects children and adults and what role the school and teacher can play in promoting the well-being and development of children. Teachers are thus equipped with knowledge and skills that enable them to understand and respond appropriately to the behavior of children who may be exhibiting behavior that is out of the ordinary. The manual consists of short units that address topics, such as the effects of conflict on children; common symptoms of psychosocial problems; coping strategies used by war-affected people; and approaches that can be used by teachers and other school staff to help children who seem to be severely troubled by their experiences. Normalizing the environment and supporting community activities are some of the ideas given for promoting a child’s natural resilience. The final unit addresses children’s rights and how teachers can advocate for recognition and implementation in the context within which they find themselves. Each unit contains short notes for the trainers and points of discussion that emphasize the importance of the teachers’ own perspectives on the situation.
Thomas, A. (2000). Valuing evaluation: A practical approach to designing an evaluation that works for you. The Hague: Bernard van Leer Foundation.
This report is based on a workshop conducted with early childhood development workers in Tel Aviv. Its aim is to help people design and carry out an evaluation of their own projects without having recourse to an outside “expert.” Barriers to evaluation are identified, including the fear of evaluation leading to change and disruption; costs in terms of time and money; and a lack of skills and knowledge. Differences between monitoring and evaluation are outlined and various ways in which evaluations can be conducted are introduced, for example, pluralistic versus single perspective evaluations; internal and external evaluations, and one-off or ongoing evaluations. Setting the aim for an evaluation is an important part of the process and simple questions need to be identified that help focus the undertaking. The concept of “indicators” is explained by emphasizing the differences in how quantitative and qualitative approaches define it. Several methods of generating indicators are discussed, for instance, through con
ducting focus groups or based on an analysis of previous reports. Finally, the implementation of the evaluation is described and useful hints are given on how this can be organized. This manual is a useful first reading that can be shared with first-time participants in an evaluation.
Tolfree, D. (1996). Restoring playfulness. Different approaches to assisting children who are psychologically affected by war or displacement. Stockholm: Radda Barnen.
This book is divided into two parts. The first addresses some of the underlying theoretical and conceptual issues in the area of psychosocial work, starting with a critique of Western approaches to trauma and the effects of violence. Resilience is discussed and efforts to facilitate the emotional, cognitive, and social capacities of children are seen as being the most successful way of assisting children. The importance of understanding cultural traditions, norms, and coping mechanisms is stressed as these influence the meaning attached to specific events and the coping strategies employed by people affected by violence. The role of religion and political ideology are also addressed, as well as the need for programs to be community-based if they are to be successful. The author then identifies several factors that practitioners in the field consider central for the promotion of psychosocial well-being, for example, parenting and being with a parent, the importance of play for children, and the role that schools play in providing a structure to the children’s environment. The second part of the book presents detailed case studies of psychosocial programs from various parts of the world that are seen as examples of good practice. The Hi Neighbour project in Yugoslavia, the work of the national Children and Violence Trust in South Africa, and the work of Acisam in El Salvador are described in detail, and their innovative practices to providing psychosocial assistance are analyzed. The case examples provide comprehensive accounts of actual programs operating and may serve as useful information for organizations seeking to assess various strategies.
Treseder, P. (1997). Empowering children and young people. Training manual. Promoting involvement in decision-making. London: Save the Children UK.
This manual is addressed to professionals and organizations who work with children and young people in a range of settings in the UK, including residential care workers, teachers, community workers, and voluntary organizations. It examines the importance of empowerment to children and the
benefit derived from this for children and professionals alike; the barriers to empowerment; and the need for workers to understand their own intentions before they embark on moves toward empowerment. Part 1 concentrates on describing participation to professionals with exercises at the end of each chapter to help work through the issues relating to this. Part 2 focuses on training young people to be active in decision making by building their confidence and provides practical ideas for work with children. Part 3 looks at long-term empowerment and strategies for making it work are discussed through examples of good practice. An important principle is not to underestimate young children’s considerable awareness and maturity when discussing issues that concern them, while at the same time adapting the exercises to the level of experience of the children. Examples of successful projects with young people that empower them are given and while they pertain to the UK they give useful ideas for implementation in other contexts.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (1993). Refugee children. Protection and care. Geneva: Author.
These guidelines were written primarily for UNHCR staff and defines the objectives, principles, and practical guidelines for protection and assistance concerns for refugee children. Approximately half the world’s refugees are children and UNHCR’s mandate to protect and care for these children is outlined in this manual. Apart from discussing what are considered to be the basics of ensuring children’s physical and intellectual development through the provision of health care, nutrition, and education, the manual also focuses on children’s psychosocial needs, gender and cultural issues, as well as on the specific needs of unaccompanied children. Helping refugee families achieve long-term durable solutions to their economic and social problems and establishing normal living conditions are seen as the single most important contribution to the psychosocial well-being and normal development of the children. The reestablishment of social structures, cultural and religious life are further important actions that facilitate a communal recovery process, reflected in improved psychosocial well-being of families and their children. For each section the manual states the general principle that it aims to uphold, the specific objectives that are to be achieved and a checklist regarding certain steps that should be taken, thus reminding readers not only of the policy issues that underlie this work but also of practical issues involved in implementing these.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (1994). Refugee chil dren. Guidelines on protection and care. Geneva: Author.
The sudden and violent onset of emergencies, the disruption of families and community structures, as well as the acute shortage of resources with which most refugees are confronted deeply affect the physical and psychological well-being of refugee children. These guidelines, written for UNHCR staff, address crucial issues regarding the care and protection of refugee children. UNHCR’s approach to protection is three pronged: direct services to the child; helping the child through services to the family; and assisting the child and the family through services in the community. The health and nutrition of the children, the prevention and treatment of disabilities, the provision of education, the legal status of children as well as the personal security are discussed in separate chapters accompanied by checklists of essential actions that need to be taken by fieldworkers. The importance of respecting cultural and religious practices is emphasized and the need for refugee participation in decision making is stressed. The psychosocial well-being of refugee children and families can be improved through direct and indirect activities by ensuring normalcy and predictability in the children’s lives and by assisting families to pursue durable solutions. Preserving family unity, supporting single or isolated parents, and facilitating parental support networks are considered important ways of achieving the protection of refugee children. Some activities for children of different age groups are suggested.
United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. (1999). Chil dren in armed conflict.New York: Author.
This working paper produced by the Evaluation, Policy and Planning Division of UNICEF consists of the most important international conventions, protocols, declarations, and treaties related to children affected by armed conflict. The aim of this publication is to, first, create awareness on children’s rights; and, second, to support governments in implementing the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which they have signed up. UNICEF therefore collated standards relevant to the realization of children’s rights in order to make them more accessible and more frequently used in the work with children. The organization argues that the strength and importance of the documents derive from the fact that they are legally binding instruments, the expression of internationally accepted principles and norms, and that they reflect political commitments to reach certain standards and goals. It is therefore essential for humanitarian work
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.
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.