Children and reconciliation in post conflict societies
Abstract: On a daily basis we hear or read about new atrocious and violent conflicts that are emerging in countless countries around the world. At the same time, some of the previous conflicts are winding down and leading to negotiations and peaceful resolutions. In either of the cases, peacebuilding initiatives are put into place to establish relationships between the divided population which is and/or was at war. There are countless reconciliation methods which are used to reconcile the adult population which is and/or was in conflict with each other. Nonetheless, how and which reconciliation approaches are used when it comes to reconciling the children that have been directly or indirectly affected by the conflict in their country is not discussed to the same extend. Thus the objective of this study is to analyse the available literature in order to gain a greater understanding of the methods which children partake in in order to foster reconciliation in a post-conflict environment. In total, 18 cases which pertain to children and reconciliation were analysed in order to find patterns, gaps and commonalities in the texts through the textual content analysis method. Furthermore, the findings were analysed in accordance to Galtung´s 12 reconciliation approaches. Based on the analysis, it became clear how limited and scarce the literature is on reporting on the ways in which children reconcile. Furthermore, all of the texts present children as innocent victims who are not to blame for what had occurred. Despite the fact that children were victims as well as perpetrators in the conflict. Additionally, there is a clear distinction in the methods which are used to reconcile child soldiers versus children that were not directly involved in the conflict. In other words, many of the findings can aid in branching out the research to explore further the differences between child soldiers and non-child soldiers, as well as the general perception of children as victims. In addition, the concept of childhood and when one is considered a child should be explored, especially in non-western cultures, where an individual is considered a child under the age of 18, yet in other cultures “children” under 18 are married, have their own children, are responsible for their parents and very much live “adult” lives.
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