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L.I.S.A. Redaktion | 08/07/2019 | 642 Views | Movies by the Gerda Henkel Foundation |

Lasting Wounds - The Suffering of Child Soldiers

Child Soldiers in a Distant Land | Episode 1

Child soldiers have long been part of the iconography of armed conflicts in Africa. Nevertheless, scientific research into the phenomenon is still in its infancy. In a project funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation, Prof. Dr. Roos van der Haer, a political scientist at Leiden University, researches the impact of acts of war on the socialization of children. In relation to this, she interviews both former child soldiers and adolescents with personal and physical experience of armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. What she is most interested in finding out is why children become soldiers and what they experience or suffer within this context. In this episode Roos van der Haer reports on how she maintains a scientist’s distance in the face of all the horror, and the situation regarding her own safety during her field research.



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The Project
Violence and armed conflict have become common place in the lives of many children around the world. Armed conflict can have sever immaterial impact. The research question of this proposal is then also; how does an armed conflict influence a child’s level of social capital? Moreover, what is the role of the armed groups in influencing a child’s level of social capital? The current literature on this potential link features some caveats. First, it focuses on of adults. This despite the fact that there is evidence suggesting that the effect of conflict is disproportional large on children. Second, they have ignored the role of armed groups. Armed conflict can lead to a social integration in a new social fabric: the war family i.e. the armed group. This might substitute the potential loss of social capital. To test the linkage between war exposure and social capital among children, I select the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In this country, 300 semi-structured interviews will be conducted with not only former child soldiers but also with other war-affected children.


Democratic Republic of Kongo

Project management
Prof Dr Roos van der Haer

Peter Prestel

Klaus Hernitschek

Klaus Hernitschek

Series created by 
Gisela Graichen and Peter Prestel

All episodes
Child Soldiers in a Distant Land
Episode 1
Difficult Research
Episode 2
The General Interview with Prof Dr Roos van der Haer
Episode 3

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