zack child soldiers

zack child soldiers - Social Work Education Vol. 25, No. 2,...

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Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone and the Problems of Demobilisation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration into Society: Some Lessons for Social Workers in War-torn Societies Tunde B. Zack-Williams Between March 1991 and February 2002 Sierra Leone was engulfed in a bloody and protracted civil war in which tens of thousands of people were killed, many more injured, over half of the population displaced and millions of pounds worth of property destroyed. Much of the violence unleashed, particularly on the civilian population, was the work of child soldiers. The phenomenon of child soldiers raises many issues of children’s well- being, although this phenomenon is not unique to Africa. In this paper, I briefly analyse the reasons for and the nature of the conflict, in particular the social forces which impelled children to join social movements challenging for state hegemony. I focus on how peripheral capitalism has impacted on the Sierra Leonean family and how the ensuing political and economic crises have left Sierra Leonean children with little security, forcing them to turn to family surrogates (social movements) for protection. I examine the processes of demobilisation, rehabilitation and reintegration of former child combatants and some of the problems and challenges to social work and social workers working with traumatised children from war ravaged communities in African nations. I suggest that Tonnies’ dichotomy between ‘Gemeinschaft’ and ‘Gesellschaft’ offers a useful framework for social work education in this context. Keywords: Child Soldiers; Gemeinschaft/Gesellschaft; Social Movements; Trauma Introduction In an article published in this journal, Jacob Kornbeck (2001) draws attention to the usefulness of Ferdinand Tonnies’ analytical dichotomy, ‘Gemeinschaft’/‘Gesellschaft’ Correspondence to: Tunde B. Zack-Williams, Professor of Sociology, Department of Education and Social Science, University of Central Lancashire, Preston PR1 2HE, UK. Email: tzackwilliams@uclan.ac.uk Social Work Education Vol. 25, No. 2, March 2006, pp. 119–128 ISSN 0261-5479 print/1470-1227 online # 2006 The Board of Social Work Education DOI: 10.1080/02615470500487085
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as an explanatory framework in social work education, particularly ‘in identifying individual social work education modules’ relevance to immigrant-and-migrant related problems in social work practice’ (p. 247). He argues that this paradigm could be utilised in locating dual skills elements in social work training and practice. In what follows, I analyse how Tonnies’ paradigmatic framework can be used in informing social work education and training for those working with former child combatants in the civil war in the West African country of Sierra Leone. Theorising Gemeinschaft/Gesellschaft
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zack child soldiers - Social Work Education Vol. 25, No. 2,...

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