Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Chicago
Nov/Dec 97

Child Soldiers
by Mike Wessells

While in Sierra Leone a couple of summers ago, I visited Grafton Camp, a facility for recently demobilized child soldiers operated by UNICEF and local partners. Many of the boys, ranging from nine to 16 years of age, had killed people as they fought in a civil war that paused with a fragile cease-fire in 1995. The camp director said that when the youths had been given drugs-most likely, amphetamines-while soldiering, they "would do just about anything that was ordered." Some, he added, were proud of having been effective killers.

These boys, who had shortly before been willing to kill and who had never received an adequate foundation of moral development, danced with enormous energy and played cooperative games under the supervision of the camp's counselors. As I watched, it was sobering to think that under certain conditions, practically any child could be changed into a killer.

But today, it is even more sobering to see once again how easily children who have been denied education and trained for fighting are manipulated by local political leaders. Fighting has resumed in Sierra Leone following a May coup, and many of the combatants are under 18. They have become part of a continuing cycle of violence.

A soldier at seven

The nature of armed conflict has changed greatly in recent years. The end of the Cold War ushered in an era of ethnopolitical conflicts that are seldom fought on well-defined battlefields. Conflicts are increasingly internal, and they are characterized by butchery; violence against women, and atrocities sometimes committed by former neighbors. More than 80 percent of the victims are noncombatants, mostly women and children.

Increasingly children serve as combatants or as cooks, informants, porters, bodyguards, sentries, and spies. Many child soldiers belong to organized military units, wear uniforms, and receive explicit training, their lethality enhanced by the widespread availability of lightweight assault weapons. Other children participate in relatively unstructured but politically motivated acts of violence, such as throwing stones or planting bombs.

The use of children in armed conflict is global in scope-a far greater problem than suggested by the scant attention it has received. Child soldiers are found from Central America to the Great Lakes region of Central Africa, and from Belfast in the north to Angola in the south.

The problem defies gender boundaries. Girls are often forced into military activity-in Ethiopia, for instance, girls comprised about 25 percent of opposition forces in the civil war that ended in 1991. Typically, sexual victimization is a part of soldiering for girls, many of whom are forced to become "soldiers' wives." After the conflict ends, families and local communities may reject the girls as impure or unsuitable for marriage. Desperate to survive, many former girl soldiers become prostitutes.

The use of child soldiers violates international norms. The U. N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), signed in 1989 and ratified by more than 160 nations, establishes 15 years as the minimum recruitment age. In fact, most countries have endorsed an optional protocol that boosts the minimum recruitment age to 18 years. But in the face of armed conflict, military units in some nations-whether governmental or rebel-often pay little attention to age.

In Grafton Camp, children were encouraged to draw, and many drew pictures that reflected their war experiences. One showed a house being shelled by artillery. Soldiers fired at the house and at people in the street, who were fleeing.

Inside the house was a man who had been shot. Blood flowed from his midsection. I asked the artist, a small-for-his-age boy of nine, to tell me about the picture and what it showed. He explained that soldiers (the rebel forces) attacked his village, bombed his house, and came inside and shot his parents. The bleeding man was his father. I did not ask why he had not painted his mother, who had also been murdered.

How old was he when his parents were killed? "Seven," he said. I asked him what happened after the attack. "My parents died-the soldiers told me to go with them so I did."

I asked what he had done in the military. He had "carried things." When I asked if he had killed anyone, he said "No." But when asked if he would have killed someone if told to do so, the strength of his desire to survive showed. "Yes," he said. He would have done "what he had to do." When asked what he wanted for the future, he said, "I only want to go to school."

Child soldiers and insecurity Child soldiering violates the fundamental rights of children, exploits youth for political purposes, subjects them to slaughter and the ravages of war, and immerses them in a system that sanctions killing. And it also poses formidable security risks for others. A society that mobilizes and trains its young for war weaves violence into the fabric of life, increasing the likelihood that violence and war will be its future. Children who have been robbed of education and taught to kill often contribute to further militarization, lawlessness, and violence.

The use of child soldiers also threatens fragile cease-fires and blocks reconciliation and peace. Not infrequently, conflict continues at the local level even after a cease-fire has been signed. Child soldiers are pawns in local conflicts because they provide a ready group for recruitment by warlords, profiteers, and groups that foment political instability.

The problem is especially severe in developing countries, in which children constitute nearly half the population and in which children are often reared in a system that mixes war, poverty, violence, hunger, environmental degradation, and political instability.

The war in Angola, which ended in 1994 with a cease-fire, began more than 35 years ago as a liberation struggle, became a proxy war in the EastWest contest, and left a legacy of about 10 million land mines and several generations who have never known anything other than war.

On a recent visit to Luanda, the capital of Angola, I saw more child amputees in a day than one might see in a lifetime elsewhere, with the exception of Afghanistan and Cambodia. During the most intense fighting, from 199294, large numbers of children lost parents and their homes, and they suffered from extreme poverty and hunger. The scars, emotional as well as physical, are deep.

Many Angolan children report nightmares and flashbacks, display heightened aggressiveness, and suffer from hopelessness. Thousands of children-defined as people under 18 years of age-entered the military. For both parents and children, war had become normal.

Hopes for peace in Angola rose in April as a new government of national unity and reconciliation took office, and the cease-fire continued. Violent youths, however, may yet sabotage the cease-fire. Roving gangs of bandits terrorize and rob civilians in rural areas. Many of the bandits are boys who served in the military; they lack education and job skills, but they understand the power of a gun.

Banditry aside, Angola faces the question of how to demobilize and reintegrate into civil society thousands of underage soldiers, many of whom fear rejection by their communities and who lack skills needed to meet their basic needs through nonviolent means.

The problems cannot be addressed through political reforms or peace treaties alone. They require work at the grassroots level to reorient and help former child soldiers adapt to peace.

Unfortunately, tensions in Angola are strong. Underage soldiers provide ready fodder for war. In Angola, as elsewhere, it is the militarization of young people and of society that creates a climate in which protracted armed conflict flourishes.

Global and systematic

How widespread is child soldiering? Numbers are hard to come by. The destruction and turmoil of war make it difficult to create and preserve accurate records. Particularly in Africa, many countries have no history of keeping precise birth records.

Beyond that, many military groups, governmental and rebel, make no attempt to document or accurately report the ages of the children they recruit. And former child soldiers are often reluctant to identify themselves because they fear rejection by their communities or retribution from their former commanders-or from those whom they once attacked.

The best estimate-which is admittedly soft-is that in the mid-1990s, there were about a quarter of a million child soldiers, current or recently demobilized.' This figure comes from a series of 26 country case studies conducted by Radda Barnen (Swedish Save the Children) as part of a larger U.N. Study on the "Impact of Armed Conflict on Children."2

Because the U.N. study was led by children's rights activist Gra;a Machel, the former first lady of Mozambique, it is typically referred to as the "Machel Study." One of the main conclusions of the study, released a year ago, is that child soldiering is a global problem that occurs more systematically than most analysts had previously suspected.

The Machel Study showed that in some countries, children constitute a significant percentage of the combatants. In Liberia, for instance, about 10 percent of an estimated 60,000 combatants in the civil war that began in 1989 were children. In El Salvador, children composed 20 percent or more of the FAES (Fuerzas Armadas de El Salvador). In Afghanistan, 10 percent of the Mujahadeen forces are estimated to have been children under 16 years. In Palestine during the Intifada, nearly 70 percent of Palestinian children are believed to have participated in acts of political violence such as stoning Israeli troops.3

Numerical estimates, however, only hint at the damage done to children and to the fabric of the societies in which they live. Children often become part of a system of hatred and killing, even if they do not participate in military activity themselves. In Rwanda, many Hutu children were informants, disclosing the locations of Tutsis and their supporters, who were then slaughtered in the 1994 genocide.

Forced recruitment

Children usually become soldiers through coercion, either through mandatory conscription or forced recruitment. When national armies have a manpower shortfall, they may find it convenient not to search too carefully for the accurate birth date of a conscript. Rebel forces seldom have use for birth records, either. In countries covered by the case studies, government forces as well as rebel forces were often equally likely to use child soldiers.

In Cambodia, says the Machel Study, children who stood as tall as a rifle were often deemed eligible for military service. In Bhutan, local authorities instructed village headmen to bring forward a specified number of people from their respective villages. Children were among the "voluntary recruits."

Manpower-hungry militias often abduct children at gun point. In Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burma/ Myanmar, El Salvador, Ethiopia, and Mozambique, soldiers have recruited children forcibly from schools. According to one underage Burmese recruit, government soldiers surrounded his school and arrested 40 to 50 youths between 15 and 17 years of age: "Our teachers all ran away in fear," says the recruit, quoted in the Burma/Myanmar case study. "We were all terrified. I didn't know what was going on and they didn't explain anything to us."

In Ethiopia, armed militias would surround a public area such as a marketplace, order every male to sit down, and then force into a truck anyone deemed "eligible." At particular risk of abduction were teenagers who worked on the streets selling cigarettes or candy.

Forced abductions, says the Machel Study, were commonly one element in a larger campaign to intimidate communities. Armed groups that abduct children for soldiering are also inclined to go on rape-and-looting rampages while in the villages.

Abductions also can be used as an instrument of war. In Guatemala, for instance, the army singled out young members of the indigenous population for recruitment during its long civil war, thereby pitting them against their cohorts among the rebels. The Mayan community called it "the new genocide."

Militias often use brutish methods to weaken resistance to forcible recruitment. The case study for Uganda reports that people who resisted attacks by the Lord's Resistance Army "would be cut with pangas [machetes]. Quite a number of victims had their lips and ears chopped off in macabre rituals."

To seal off possible avenues of resistance from the children's communities, recruiters may deliberately destroy the bonds of trust between child and community. In Mozambique, for instance, recruiters from RENAMO forced boy recruits to kill someone from their own village.

Fear and obedience

Abduction is only the first step in a process that uses fear, brutality, and psychological manipulation to achieve high levels of obedience, converting children into killers.

In many, countries, child recruits are subjected to beatings, humiliation, and acts of sadism. In Honduras, boys wearing only underwear were exposed by government troops to "the ram," in which they were forced to roll nearly naked on a stony or thorny surface while being beaten or lacked by a squad leader.

In Paraguay, government military trainers beat children with sticks or rifle butts and burned them with cigarettes while verbally mocking them. Those who resisted or who attempted to escape were further brutalized or killed.

A frequently used tactic is to have children learn by doing, which may mean exposing them progressively to violence, numbing them so they might someday commit acts of sadism on fellow humans. Child recruits in Colombia, for example, were forced to cut the throats of domestic animals and drink the blood.

A 14-year-old Mozambican boy, quoted in Mozambique's case study, said of RENAMO forces: "I was told to train. I would run, do head-over-heels, and climb trees. Then they trained me to take guns apart and put them back together again for four months. Every day the same thing. When it was over they did a test. They put someone in front of me for me to kill. I killed."

Few constraints exist on what trainers can do to children, and children themselves may lack the internal constraints against violence that ordinarily develop through exposure to positive role models, a healthy family life, the rewards for socially constructive behaviors, and the encouragement of moral reasoning.

Weakened psychologically and fearful of their commanders, children can become obedient killers, willing to take on the most dangerous and horrifying assignments. In countries such as Uganda, Liberia, and Honduras, child soldiers have served as executioners, and in some countries-notably in Colombia, Peru, and Mozambiquethey have been required to perform ritual acts of cannibalism on their victims, acts calculated to instill contempt for human life.

Adolescents are often selected for suicide missions, and some commanders view adolescents as mentally predisposed for such duty. In countries such as Sri Lanka and Burma/Myanmar, child soldiers were given drugs-such as amphetamines and tranquilizers-to blunt fear and pain and then used for "human wave" attacks that resulted in massive casualties. In Guatemala, underage soldiers were used as scouts and land mine "detectors."

Although some commanders complain that child soldiers take excessive risks, slow operations down, and do not seem to understand the dangers they face, many commanders prefer child soldiers because they are highly obedient and willing to follow the most unacceptable orders. As one person said in the Burma/Myanmar case study, "Child soldiers are always very eager to go to the front lines."

Unforced recruitment

Coercion aside, children may join the military for security, a pressing need for unaccompanied children who are vulnerable to nearly every kind of threat. Desperation for food or medical care often drives children into military life. The military may offer children the only path to wages to support themselves or their families. For these reasons, it is meaningless to ever speak of children's involvement in the military as strictly "voluntary."

The quest for national identity; fiberation, and a secure homeland animates many armed conflicts. Typically, identity conflicts are saturated with an ideology of liberation struggle that draws a sharp line between Us and Them, glorifies the in-group while denigrating the out-group, and honors high levels of commitment to "the cause." Particularly in conflicts influenced by strong religious ideologies, youth may view the cause as having divine sanction, making it a clear-cut struggle between Good and Evil.

For adolescents still defining their identity, ideology provides direction that is otherwise lacking. In apartheid South Africa, black township youth the Young Lions-adopted an ideology of liberation, which gave meaning to the harsh realities of their existence and conferred a clear sense of identity and direction.

In Guatemala, many children of landless peasants living in extreme poverty and victimized by repressive regimes embraced an ideology of revolution and joined the liberation struggle. In Rwanda during the early 1990s, the Hutu-dominated government used radio to spread hatred of the Tutsis, who were demonized as murderous outsiders. This helped prepare children for roles as killers in the youth militias in the 1994 genocide.

Many communities glorify war and teach children at an early age to view military activity as prestigious and glamorous. Militaristic values may be transmitted via parades, ceremonies to honor war heroes, and the martyrdom of soldiers.

Media images may also play a part. In Sri Lanka, opposition forces have broadcast Rambostyle Tv movies of live combat training.' In such contexts, boys learn machismo and come to associate military activity with respect and power-compelling attractions for children who otherwise feel powerless.

While some boys join the military for adventure or to win fame and the respect of other males, others bask in the praise of mothers who express pride in seeing their sons in uniform.

In places such as Northern Ireland, Palestine, or South Africa, now as in the past, peer pressure animates participation in political violence. Youths expect and encourage each other to take part in violent activities, and they attach great value to group loyalty.5 Having been arrested and tortured are regarded as badges of courage and commitment.

In states such as Chechnya and Ethiopia, families have encouraged sons to join opposition groups as a means of avenging the deaths of family members or of seeking "blood revenge." Families may also encourage sons to join the military for economic reasons, seeing the salar from soldiering as the most likely route to survival.

Children who engage in political violence often have witnessed deaths, torture, or executions. Others have lost parents, had their homes and even their communities destroyed, or have been sexually abused. Even children who have not been physically attacked may feel victimized by assaults on relatives or on their ethnic group.

Psychologically, people who have been victims of violence are at great risk of becoming perpetrators of violence. It's a familiar pattern. I recall a recent visit with three women whose husbands had been shot execution style while working in the fields in the early 1980s, during a long and brutal civil war. The women now live as a group. One of their sons, now 16, said he did not remember the killings. He was too young. But if the war, which ended in a cease-fire, should resume, he would join a military unit-if it would enable him to avenge his father's death.

In 1992, while I was visiting the Occupied Vest Bank, a Palestinian father told me how his six-year-old son had gone up the street to the home of an Israeli settler who had recently moved in. The son had no involvement in political violence. But when the son tossed small stones into the settler's garbage can, as if shooting basketballs, the settler stormed out of the house with an automatic weapon and threatened to shoot if the boy returned.


In Angola, restoring spiritual harmony through traditional healing is an essential step in helping child soldiers demobilize and reintegrate into their home communities. In many Bantu cultures, people believe that when one kills, one is haunted by the unavenged spirits of those who were killed. Spiritually contaminated, a former child soldier who has killed puts an entire community at risk if he re-enters without having been purified.

In one community, a traditional healer told me a few years ago of a ritual he ordinarily conducts to purify former child soldiers. First, he lives with the child for a month, feeding him a special diet designed to cleanse. During the month, he also advises the child on proper behavior and what the village expects from him.

At the end of the month, the healer convenes the village for a ritual. As part of the ceremony, the healer buries frequently used weapons-a machete, perhaps, or an AK-47-and announces that on this day the boy's life as a soldier has ended and his life as a civilian has begun.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that this kind of purification ceremony helps decrease the stress and fear that gnaws on former child soldiers and helps communities accept young people back. The preliminary evidence also suggests that once young people have been accepted, the community often succeeds in teaching them nonviolent modes of behavior.

Such ceremonies seem to be relatively common in rural areas, not just in sub-Saharan Africa but in indigenous cultures around the world. The healers who practice them are on to something. It is premature and without scientific justification to assume that former child soldiers who have killed or done terrible things are forever "damaged goods" and beyond rehabilitation.

Traditional healing methods may work, in part, because they fit local beliefs. For example, in Guatemala, Mayan people believe that when someone dies, the spirit cannot go to the next life until a burial ritual has been conducted. This is why the exhumations of mass graves now under way in Guatemala are so important to the Mayans.

Many humanitarian assistance and development efforts overlook traditional healing methods, which are dismissed as unscientific. I discovered while working in Sierra Leone that local people were initially reluctant to talk about traditional healing with me, a Western Ph.D. Although traditional methods should not be romanticized or viewed as a panacea, they can be important tools for assisting former child combatants.

Nevertheless, a variety of obstacles impede attempts to address the problem of child soldiering Warring factions, desperate for more troops, continue to exploit children. In addition, non-state actors such as armed opposition groups are not signatories to key instruments such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Typically, cease-fires and peace treaties include no provisions for the demobilization of child soldiers. Further, cultures van in their definition of "childhood"; many African societies regard a 14-year-old boy as a man if he has participated in the traditional rite of passage.

Labeling is also a significant problem.6 Some people, even psychologists and psychiatrists, have written off entire groups of severely traumatized child soldiers as "lost generations." In Nicaragua, according to that country's case study, workers at a center to assist former child soldiers initially feared the children they work with, believing they were "born assassins," "bloodthirsty children," or "human tigers" who "take out people's eyes."

Stigmatizing labels, however, should not obscure the fact that there are tremendous individual differences in children's responses to war experiences, and that many methods-Western and traditional-exist for assisting former child soldiers.

Demobilization and reintegration

The most immediate healing steps, which generally cannot be taken until after armed conflict ends, involve demobilizing everyone under the age of 18 years, reintegrating them with families and communities, and assisting them in making the transition into civilian life.

Effective demobilization programs provide basic needs, such as food, water, shelter, and security. This is most often accomplished by locating members of the child's immediate or extended family and then reuniting them as soon as possible.

To offer opportunities for healthy development and life in the community reintegration programs often attempt to place former child soldiers in schools or to provide vocational training that can lead to jobs and financial conditions that mitigate against re-enlistment.

Effective demobilization and reintegration also requires attention to psychological adjustment. Depending on their experiences, former child soldiers may experience flashbacks and nightmares about traumatic events, causing difficulties in concentration that can impair judgment and performance in school. Some former soldiers carry heavy burdens of guilt and worry about what will happen to them.

War-affected children may act out aggressive impulses, creating problems and continuing the spread of violence. Inability to control aggressive behavior is often a problem for children who have been reared in a system of violence, who have few skills for handling conflict nonviolently, and whose moral development may have been limited by early immersion in the military.

It is important to heal the psychological wounds of war, to assist children in coming to terms with their experiences concerning death and violence, to reestablish daily routines that provide a sense of normalcy and continuity, and to develop values and skills of nonviolent conflict resolution. Nongovernmental organizations and U.N. agencies such as UNICEF have developed several effective programs for achieving these aims.

In Angola, for instance, I work with a multi-province program that enables adults in local communities to address the emotional needs of war-affected children through a mixture of Western and traditional healing methods.7

In the past year, a team organized by Christian Children's Fund and UNICEF has, with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, located the families of and successfully demobilized and returned home 83 percent of 2,925 child soldiers in UNITA-controlled areas.

To prepare the communities, the team trained local church people-Catequistas-to help parents, teachers, and community leaders understand and deal with the kinds of problems the returning children would face. The Catequistas also helped arrange traditional healing ceremonies. About half of the former child soldiers helped by the program are in vocational training, and about a fourth are in school.

Strengthening the CRC

Although community-based approaches are valuable, the world cannot wait for child soldiering to occur and then try to pick up the pieces afterward. Prevention ought to be the top priority

An immediate step would be to raise the minimum age of recruitment to 18 years. Although Article 38 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child establishes 15 years as the minimum recruitment age, the U. N. Commission on Human Rights is drafting an optional protocol to the CRc that sets 18 years as the minimum age for compulsory recruitment or for participation in hostilities. Because this protocol enjoys strong support, there is hope for its adoption by the General Assembly.

A key step toward strengthening the CRC is to pressure non-state actors to respect its provisions even though they are not signatories. If only governments adhere to the norms set by the convention, the door is left open to abuses of children's rights by opposition or rebel groups. Pressure to adhere to the standards set by the convention may be applied to both state and non-state actors through careful monitoring by U.N. agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and international media.

Another crucial step is to build commitment to the CRC, the most comprehensive instrument for the protection of children's rights. Although more than 160 nations are parties to the convention, there are several noteworthy exceptions-primarily the United States, which signed it in 1995, but has not ratified it.

The fact that the United States has not ratified the convention, the most widely endorsed human rights instrument in the world, is puzzling to its allies and damaging to its ability to lead on human rights questions. The ratification effort in the United States has been short-circuited by questionable concerns over whether setting the minimum recruitment age at 18 would compromise national security or limit sovereignty.

Another issue in the Senate centers on the fact that the convention outlaws capital punishment for anyone under 18. That raises the concern that ratification of the convention would limit the ability of states to use capital punishment. But perhaps the biggest obstacle to ratification is simply the lack of public awareness. Most people in the United States do not know about child soldiers, which means there has not been much public discussion about the CRC.

Around the world, nations that are parties to the convention must invoke it, not ignore it. They must point out the massive violations of children's rights that occur as a result of armed conflict. There must be enforcement of its basic provisions for safeguarding the physical, social, and psychological integrity of children and for guaranteeing basic rights such as the right to education.

To succeed, prevention efforts need to work toward structural changes that address poverty and oppression, fundamental sources of armed conflict and of much child soldiering.

Connections must also be built between children's rights, arms transfers, and militarization, issues that the peace community and the world at large have tended to address in a fragmentary manner. Only a holistic approach will succeed in ending child soldiering and building healthy social systems that protect children and orient them toward peace.

The tunnel

While visiting the Grafton Camp in Sierra Leone last year, I watched these former soldiers, these boys, these children, at play. They had been robbed of their childhood, exposed to death and suffering at an early age, and some had been made into killers.

And yet, as I observed and as I talked with the boys' counselors, I acquired a new appreciation for human resilience and potential for change. Some of the boys had once cooperated in killing, but now they cooperated in games such as running "the tunnel."

The boys stood in two lines facing each other, with partners in the line joining hands and raising their arms, creating a tunnel through which the first two boys would run.

When they reached the end, they faced one another and locked their hands in the air, becoming part of the tunnel through which the next pair at the front of the line ran.

A child's game, yes. You probably played it, or something like it, yourself. At Grafton Camp, there was much laughter as the boys ran faster and faster through the tunnel and as the tunnel snaked its way around trees and through gardens.

On another level, however, it was a serious game with a psychological dimension. The tunnel existed only through cooperation, the joined hands symbolizing human interconnectedness. The game required trust, because the boys forming the tunnel could have easily collapsed the tunnel, tripping the runners. Or they could have harassed the runners in myriad ways.

However modestly, the game was rebuilding the fabric of trust that the war had ripped apart. While no single game could rehabilitate a former child soldier, the camp itself seemed to offer hope that rehabilitation was possible. After all, some of the counselors were themselves former child soldiers who had been demobilized and who were now working to help younger children make the adjustment back to everyday civilian life.

And yet, what is done in a facility like Grafton is only a drop in an ocean of violence. In fact, Grafton Camp itself closed last summer, a victim of the revived violence in Sierra Leone. Some of the child soldiers at Grafton have been "remobilized." The laughter is long gone.

Children in Sierra Leone are being drawn back into the renewed conflict. Much the same is true in other countries locked in cycles of violence. Although the immediate goal is to protect children in areas of armed conflict, the longer-term goal must be to prevent the wars that lead children to the slaughter. *


1. Except where noted, figures are from current studies conducted by a variety of nongovernmental and governmental organizations. These studies are available from Radda Barnen, and are summarized in Rachel Brett and Margaret McCallin, Children: The I>aza.sible Soldiers (Vaxjo, Sweden: Swedish Save the Children.1996).

2. The official title of the Machel Study is "Report of the Expert of the Secretary-General, Graca Machel, on the 'Impact of Armed Conflict on Children' Document A/51/306 & Add 1." It may he ordered from the Public Inquiries Unit, Department of Information, United Nations, New York, NY 10017. Fax: (212) 963-0071.

3. Samir Quota, R>uja Punamaki, and Ey ad elSarraj, "The Relations Between Traumatic Experiences, Activitv, and Cognitive and Emotional Responses Among Palestinian Children," International Journal of Psychology,1995, vol. 30, p. 291.

4. Guy Goodwin-Gill and Ilene Cohn, Child Soldiers : The Role of Children in Armed Conflicts (Oxford: Clarendon, 1994), p. 31.

5. Ed Cairns. Children and Political Violence (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996), p.114. 6. Gillian Straker, Faces in the Revolution (Cape Town: David Philip, 1992), p. 13.

7. Michael Wessells, "Assisting Angolan Children Impacted By War: Blending Western and Traditional Approaches to Healing," in Coordinators Notebook: An International Resource for Early Childhood Development, vol. 19 (West Springfield, Mass., Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care and Development, 1996), pp. 33-37.


Mike Wessells, a professor of psychology at Randolph-Macon College in Virginia, is a former president of the Division of Peace Psychology of the American Psychological Association. He has done extensive consulting on conflict resolution and healing the wounds of war, particularly in Sierra Leone and Angola.

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