Children and Youth Staying Safe in Violent Conflict

How do conflict-affected, at-risk children and youth try and protect themselves and remain resilient, and how do these protection strategies relate to programs designed by actors seeking 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 at-risk youth 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.

The project draws on the latest research on children and resilience, child development, and adolescent brain science, and brings this together with the life stories of children and youth affected by war and violence.  Its findings are relevant to scholars and practitioners’ intervention strategies seeking enhance protection of conflict affected, at-risk children, youth and their families. The program also includes outreach to and engagement with UN, government and NGO policy makers working on issues of children protection; and leading child protection experts.

The program includes:

Research addressing 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 and stay resilient;
  3. What actions are taken by different national and international actors seeking to enhance these children’s and youth’s protection and well-being, 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 resilience and well-being?

Outputs include:

  • Atim, Teddy, Dyan Mazurana and Anastasia Marshak. “Women survivors and their children born of wartime sexual violence in northern Uganda”Disasters.  Volume 42, Issue S1 January 2018, pp. S61–S78;
  • A 2016 WPF international workshop with leading experts on protection in situations of armed conflict, and a briefing report from the seminar, Staying Safe in Armed Conflict;
  • A 2018 international workshop with leading experts on children born of war time sexual violence, and a briefing report from the workshop, forthcoming;
  • A book on children, violence and resilience, written for a general audience and child protection advocates and practitioners, forthcoming;
  • An international anthology on the state of children and youth born of wartime sexual violence (anticipated University of Pennsylvania Press, forthcoming 2019);
  • A policy briefing, forthcoming.

Complete listing of Dyan Mazurana’s publications  with WPF

Dyan Mazurana’s publications developed through her World Peace Foundation Fellowship use gender analysis to focus on the violence experienced by civilian populations, and the ways that perpetrators are motivated and they violence they inflict.  Her work then investigates how both victims and former perpetrators emerge from armed conflict and a range of challenges they face in the lives moving forward because of their wartime experiences.

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