A World Turned Upside Down: Social Ecological Approaches to Children in War Zones

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Neil Boothby, Alison Strang, Michael G. Wessells
Kumarian Press, 2006 - Psychology - 260 pages
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When wars are fought in the midst of civilian activity, as they so often are in poorer countries, the effects on children are devastating. They may grow up separated from their families, without adequate health care, or resources, learn to take up a weapon and kill without thought, or may simply never have the feeling of safety. A World Turned Upside Down looks at the experiences of children in war from a psychological perspective, specifically from a social ecologist's view, offering thoughtful observations and dispelling myths about what results from growing up in conflict situations. In contrast to individualized approaches, the volume offers a deeper conceptualization that shows the impacts of war as socially mediated. In this view, it is expected that two children exposed to the same traumatic experience (e.g., attack) may have different reactions and needs for psychosocial support. If, for example, a child were attacked but remained in the care of a mother who provided emotional support and protection, the impacts might be less than what would have occurred had the child been separated from parents and not had the mother's support. Further, psychosocial assistance to war-affected children often occurs not through the provision of therapy by outsiders but via support from insiders. Each contributor has worked extensively with children in war zones in Europe, Africa, Latin America, and Asia. They step back from viewing these children as victims of trauma, soldiers, or refugees, and reveal a holistic understanding of their experiences within their families and communities. Knowing these social connections, they argue, helps pinpoint ways of fostering well-being and even reducing further violence.
 

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Contents

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About the author (2006)

Neil Boothby is an internationally recognized expert and advocate for children affected by war and displacement. As a senior representative of UNICEF, UNHCR and Save the Children, he has worked for more than 20 years with children in crises in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. As director of the Program on Forced Migration and Health and Professor of Clinical Population and Family Health at the Mailman School, his research focuses on the psychosocial consequences of organized violence on children. He is also the recipient of several awards for his fieldwork, including the Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year Award, for his work with child soldiers, the Mickey Leyland Award, for his work on behalf of uprooted people, the United Nation's Golden Achievement Award, for excellence in social sector activities, and Duke University's Humanitarian Service Award.

Dr. Alison Strang is a Research Fellow at the Institute for International Health and Development, Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh. She is a psychologist, whose work has spanned the fields of education, training and health - generally focusing on addressing the needs marginalized groups.

Michael Wessells is Senior Child Protection Specialist for the Christian Childrenrsquo;s Fund, Professor of Clinical Population and Family Health at Columbia University in the Program on Forced Migration and Health, and Professor of Psychology at Randolph-Macon College.

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