Child Soldiers Analysis

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Introduction Childhood Deployed: Remaking Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone by Susan Shepler is a relevant and well-written book, which analyses the indications of the participation of former child soldiers in the Civil War in Sierra Leone (1991-2002) and the difficulties of their reintegration to the post-war society. The analysis is based on eighteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in communities, schools, non-formal apprenticeship programs and interim care centres as well as her long lasting experience and research in Sierra Leone. It examines the everyday life challenges, experiences and conjectures about childhood, youth and reintegration of child soldiers by ex-combatants, adults and child right workers. So, like for example Anthropologist…show more content…
This period motivated Shepler to tell the story of the conflict, which she describes as being so ‘deep’ that even people who lived it do not comprehend its complexity. The account demonstrates how people lived through and talked about the war, the social practice of the meaning and how the society makes sense of child soldiering. In her writing, Shepler is clearly aware of the sensitivity of the topic of child soldiers. The preface is focused on Shepler’s own difficulties with understanding the conflict. The introduction shows how Shepler wants to deliver her message: by giving a brief overview of the conflict, an insight in her fieldwork, and a demonstration of the importance of ethnographic fieldwork, she directly shows how narrative and critical writing intermingle in her book. In the first three chapters Shepler tries to make sense of the concept of childhood in both Western as Sierra Leona’s context. Shown is how the term childhood in Sierra Leona is fundamentally different from the ‘protected western context’. Crucial in this description is how childhood enfolds in the decade of the civil war, and how it can be placed in line with child soldiering. By using cases of adults and children is demonstrated how western reintegration models of NGO’s are often misplaced. The last two chapters focus on the changes that…show more content…
This implicates that the Western NGO’s are not able to support the ex-combatant’s best interests, since they are forcing Western models of reintegration upon the children. The awareness of this problem can potentially influence both the academic as well as policy thinking, in that ethnography can be taken as a starting point to evaluate the life situations of child soldiers. From hereon the rethinking of possibilities and methods to develop more culturally appropriate programs can start. This can possibly gain the efficiency of the child soldier’s integration in the post-war societies and thereby create a balance between Western universalization of childhood and local perceptions. In demonstrating her argument, Shepler also calls upon a broader public debate about the ignorance towards informal reintegration. It is necessary to ensure that the goals of NGO’s are to improve the situation of the children, because following their own interests can do much damage. Forcing forms of bureaucracy upon the former combatants can lead to changes in the conception of youth and the structure of society. What remains unclear in the book is how to differentiate between the interpretation of the terms of ‘youth’ and ‘children’. In some sections the terms are used as synonyms, while in other chapters the terms are used

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