I Have a Hard Time Sleeping: About the Reintegration of Child Soldiers in Colombia


Verhoef, Renske. 2008. “I Have a Hard Time Sleeping: About the Reintegration of Child Soldiers in Colombia.” Master's Thesis. Universiteit Utrecht.

Author: Renske Verhoef


Over the past five decades, a civil war between guerilla movements, paramilitary organizations and the government has plagued Colombian society. The emergence of massive traumas and a culture of violence have damaged the social tissue of society. Under these circumstances it becomes ‘attractive’ for children to join illegal armed groups. In Colombia, an estimated 14.000 children are turned into weapons of war, trained to commit brutal acts of violence. The physical, psychological and social development of these children is seriously obstructed.

To assist former child soldiers, after being caught, demobilized or having deserted, the Colombian Institute for Family Welfare executes, since 1999, a reintegration program specifically designed for these children. In addition, special Juvenile Centers for Reference and Opportunity were established for the age group between eighteen and twenty-four years of age.

At first glance these programs seem to be well designed, but the overall development, the economic reintegration and the social reintegration of the children and adolescents are inadequately supported. This thesis will provide you with the understanding that matching the programs with the needs of reintegrating former child soldiers, is quite a challenge.

Topics: Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Boys Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2008

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