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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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Child Protection Deployed

Child Protection Deployed

The Bo Interim Care Centre

(p.55) 2 Child Protection Deployed
Childhood Deployed

Susan Shepler

NYU Press

This chapter describes Western interventions in Sierra Leone on behalf of child soldiers: demobilization, interim care, psychosocial activities, schooling and skills training, family tracing and reunification, follow-up visits, and community support. The identity “child soldier” in Sierra Leone is made as young people move through these institutions designed for their rehabilitation and reintegration. Their postwar identities are partly structured by these institutions and partly made in overlapping arenas of social practice as individuals react to and negotiate with the system for their own needs. In particular, children sometimes use discourses of abdicated responsibility—“It was not my fault that I fought with the rebels. I was only a child!”—to help ease their postwar reintegration. But this same notion of child innocence in some ways makes reintegration more difficult, since Sierra Leoneans want children to return to their normal place at the bottom of the social hierarchy.

Keywords:   Western interventions, Sierra Leone, rehabilitation, reintegration, postwar identities, child innocence, abdicated responsibility, social practice, child soldiers

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