J. de Jong
- The role of silence in Burundian former child soldiers
- International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling
- Volume | Issue number
- 36 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Conscription of children into the armed forces continues to be a worldwide problem. Understanding the transition from being a child soldier to becoming a civilian adult is crucial in understanding the longitudinal and social effects of childhood trauma. This study examined the community and family relations of male and female former child soldiers (FCS), and considered how the experience of child soldiering affects adult relationships. Relationships were examined through semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and observational data with 23 FCS parents in Burundi. Thematic analysis revealed the following: (i) learned silence in the rebellion, (ii) a stance of distrust as a means of coping, and (iii) communication about the child soldier experience to teach family lessons. Assisting FCS’ communication coping styles through counseling focusing on strengthening the positive uses of silence while understanding its maladaptive use seems to have potential for easing the effects of war-related trauma.
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