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Colombia’s displaced, violence-affected children: Exploring a community-based, psychosocial pedagogy

Colombia’s displaced, violence-affected children: Exploring a community-based, psychosocial pedagogy

The protracted violent conflict in Colombia has resulted in the internal displacement of over 4.3 million people (lDMC, 2008) and the enlistment of 11 ,000 to 14,000 children into one of the guerrilla or paramilitary groups. Children in rural and marginalized areas of Colombia are often targeted by armed groups for recruitment or social cleansing, which is the killing of youth for not abiding by imposed community rules (Watchlist, February 2004). ln addition to the violence, displaced children face numerous challenges including discrimination, separation from or loss of family members, abuse, and other psychosocial issues.

These factors may affect a child’s psychosocial health, cognitive development, and ability to overcome such hardships (Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, 2004; Barenbaum et al., 2004). For violence-affected children, education is a critical tool for developing their sense of normalcy, increasing their stability and improving the children’s psychosocial well-being. Based on research conducted in an illegal, paramilitary controlled territory in Colombia, this paper focuses on the role of formal and nonformal education in fostering ti-re’resilience of violence-affected children. Specifically, this paper illusirates how key relationships children developed influenced their resilience; explores how education programs increased children’s protection, yet faced challenges in implementing appropriate psychosocial approaches; and offers insights into how education may strengthen the resilience of displaced, violence-affected children by addressing their layers of risk factors through a community-based, psychosocial pedagogy.

Conference: Demo
Areas of Interest / Categories: Discrimination, Resilience