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Childhood DeployedRemaking Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone$
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Susan Shepler

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780814724965

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814724965.001.0001

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Youth in Sierra Leone

Youth in Sierra Leone

(p.21) 1 Youth in Sierra Leone
Childhood Deployed

Susan Shepler

NYU Press

This chapter describes aspects of the practice of childhood in Sierra Leone—child labor, secret society initiations, child fosterage, and education and apprenticeship—that are continuous with the participation of children in armed forces. Sierra Leoneans have their own culturally specific reactions to child soldiering that are not reflected in global child rights discourse. What is disturbing to them is not a lost innocence but a separation from family and training and the idea that the nation loses a generation. However, the focus on social, cultural, and historical continuity does not change the fact that the war was an extraordinary event, and a horrible experience for almost everyone involved.

Keywords:   childhood, Sierra Leone, child labor, secret society initiations, child fosterage, education, child soldiers, child rights, lost innocence

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