Children and Youth Staying Safe in Violent Conflict

How do conflict-affected, at-risk children and youth protect themselves, and how do these protection strategies relate to programs designed by actors who seek to aid young populations? This WPF research program, led by Dyan Mazurana, postulates that there is a potentially harmful disconnect between the strategies deployed by youth at-risk groups and the response of national and international agencies.

Children and youth’s self-protection strategies are more complex, multi-layered and fluid than generally understood, and extend well beyond how `protection’ is defined and approached by humanitarian or child protection actors. This research program will examine in cross-case studies the protection strategies, goals and tactics of children and youth. Its findings should be relevant to scholars and practitioners’ intervention strategies seeking enhance protection of conflict affected, at-risk children, youth and their families.

The research program addresses four main questions:

  1. How do conflict affected, at-risk children, youth and their families understand protection;
  2. What do these children and youth prioritize, how do they strategize, and what do they actually do to try and protect themselves and their families from violence and harm;
  3. What actions are taken by different national and international actors seeking to enhance these children’s and youth’s protection, and how (if at all) do they intersect with what the children and youth (and their families) prioritize and do; and
  4. How can national and international interventions support their positive protection efforts?

The program will produce:

  • A workshop with leading experts on protection in situations of armed conflict, and a briefing note from the seminar, Staying Safe in Armed Conflict;
  • A book chapter on children and self protection in Political Violence and Children (Oxford University Press, forthcoming);
  • A book length, cross-country comparative study;
  • Several policy briefing reports that will be published throughout the length of the program;
  • Interactions with UN, government and NGO policy makers working on issues of children protection;
  • A workshop with leading child protection experts;



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