No child’s play: Recognising the agency of former child soldiers in peace building processes

Berents, Helen (2009) No child’s play: Recognising the agency of former child soldiers in peace building processes. Dialogue E-Journal, 6(2).

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Abstract

Engaging with the emerging discourse on children that recognises childhood as culturally specific and that children actively engage with their environment, this paper questions the dominant discourse’s view of children as passive recipients of socialisation. This paper argues that the discourse on children’s agency is a more useful framework for understanding the experiences of former child soldiers and that engaging meaningfully with this discourse will both improve life outcomes and reduce the risk of ongoing instability. This argument is made by an examination of the two discourses; examining their development and arguing for the usefulness of the agency discourse. This provides for an examination of children’s agency in education and skills training programs and of their political involvement (or marginalisation) in three conflicts: Colombia, Sierra Leone and Uganda. Recognising children as agents and engaging with how they navigate their lived experiences after involvement in conflict testifies to children’s resilience and their desire for change. Challenging the dominant discourse through the agency discourse allows for the acknowledgement of former child soldiers as both social and political agents in their own right and of their potential for contributing to stable and lasting peace.

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ID Code: 83521
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: child soldiers, peace building, youth
ISSN: 1448-5605
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Justice
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 University of Queensland
Deposited On: 14 Apr 2015 01:40
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2015 00:55

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