Children

18 March 2014Review

PM Press, 2012; 256pp; £12.99

13 August 2011Feature

In this examination of their work providing nonviolence training for teachers and pupils in the German state education system, Andreas Peters and Milan ask whether they are taking part in a great opportunity to encourage social change, or merely providing a fig-leaf for a totalitarian institution engaged in supplying resources to economic interests?

First act

7:45 at a school in Germany. A group of pupils stand outside the door of a school building. One of them needs to get into the building urgently: He needs to use the toilet.

Just then, two trainers from the Trainingskollektiv Kölner (Cologne Training Collective ) approach the door, which is being guarded by a caretaker. Over the next two days they will carry out de-escalation training with a fifth form class. The two trainers reach the entrance hall of the school after…

13 August 2011Feature

The torture and ill-treatment of children in the home, at work, and in conflict is commonplace. Amnesty International expose this "hidden scandal" and report on the work they are doing to combat it.

“He had a pair of pliers in his hand. He kept asking where the mobile [phone] was. I told him I had not seen it... He got hold of my thumb and placed it between the pliers. He pressed it hard and crushed my thumb. I do not remember what happened next.” This description would be horrifying no matter who the victim was. What makes it particularly shocking is that these are the words of a nine-year-old boy tortured by police in Bangladesh. It is not an unusual case— in more than half…

13 August 2011Feature

In 1998, Denis Halliday, the then Chief UN relief co-ordinator for Iraq, resigned his post in protest at the impact of continued economic sanctions on the civilian population. Kathy Kelly is a veteran US peace campaigner, currently best known for her role as joint co-ordinator of the sanctions-busting group Voices in the Wilderness (US). In July both visited Britain to speak at the "Re-energise" anti-sanctions conference held in London. Peace News caught up with them for a chat.

PN: Denis, in your 1998 resignation speech at Harvard you made some very unequivocal statements about the impact of sanctions on children in Iraq. Do you feel that these widely reported statements, with their emphasis on children, have constructed the agenda for anti-sanctions campaigners and activists worldwide?

Denis: I think my resignation and departure—endorsed 18 months later by Hans von Sponeck—has certainly opened up the dialogue, and has made it easier for other…

1 September 2001Feature

High profile school shootings in the US have been the inspiration for much popular discussion about the causes of youth violence in recent years, with everyone—from bad parents and corrupt teachers, to rock stars—being blamed. Rick Jahnkow argues that while the motivation for such shootings may be complex, one causal factor in particular is being ignored—militarism.

When a student takes a gun to school and goes on a shooting rampage—as one 15-year-old is charged with doing in a community near me in California— the public immediately expresses its shock and confusion over how such a thing could ever occur.

Educators, politicians, and the mental health professionals who are called upon to deal with tragedies of this sort all struggle to come up with a plausible explanation. Usually, their attention focuses on narrow, individualistic conditions…

1 September 2001Feature

Colombian children are providing a model of how children can become the authentic leaders of their community—and how children can lead the way to a community-wide shared vision, even when all hope for common vision has faded. Novelist and journalist Sara Cameron was invited by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to chronicle Colombia's children-led peace movement.

For more than 20 years, Colombia has been caught up in a brutal conflict between political opponents. On the left, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and other groups have conducted guerilla warfare against the government since the mid-1960s. Unlike other insurgents in the region who were dependent on support from the Soviet bloc, the Colombian “revolution” has been self-financed through kidnapping for ransom, extortion, and by “taxing” coca producers and cocaine exporters.…

1 September 2001Comment

Children are the future, right? So why have we constructed a world which requires children to: live short, difficult lives and to die in poverty; to be recruited into our militaries and to engage in conflict; to be raped, tortured and mutilated?

Is it just another perverse display of the self-destructive “human condition” or are there structural requirements which demand “power-over” children and which can—in theory at least—be dismantled? This issue of Peace News takes a look at the experience of children in relation to war and peace. Not just a catalogue of trauma and misery—child soldiers, child labourers, child victims—but also a presentation of children as survivors, as (small) people who are constructing peace in their own…

1 September 2001Feature

More than 120,000 children, some no more than seven or eight years old, are currently fighting in armed conflicts around the world. Judit Arenas reports on the experience of child soldiers and the work being carried out to put an end to this abuse.

The stark images of child soldiers in armed conflicts today are shocking: sometimes under 10, dressed in uniforms too large or sportsgear that belongs in a park, armed with high powered weapons that are often bigger than themselves.

Many of these children are often forcibly recruited at gunpoint, but often it is poverty, propaganda and alienation that drives them into armies, paramilitaries and militias. Many join armed groups because of their own experience of abuse at the hands of…

1 September 2001Feature

In attempting to apply European values to educational needs, and with notions of protecting the "innocence" of children in non-European countries, do we undermine the one opportunity by which children can survive in their own communities? Julia Guest met child mechanics in Burkina Faso.

Sitting under the scant shade of a tree, a small huddle of boys started to talk about their life. I want to be the boss of a garage, said Xavier, a small boy; they all did.

This hope is what keeps them coming back, day after day, year after year. No they were not paid, as apprentices; food at lunchtime is all they receive. I watch them learning their trade in the blazing sun: Xavier and Bernard watch intently while the mechanic welds the car chassis, no more than a foot away from…

1 September 2001Feature

A community action group in Chile is helping a neighbourhoodto better its environment and the lives of its people. Their main focus is on improving the quality of life for the community'schildren and on encouraging participation by them in organising and managing their own spaces. Luis Tricot reports.

Valparaiso sits staring at the Pacific Ocean, its multicolour houses hanging from its 37 hills, indifferent to the rain and wind that sweep through the city's narrow, winding streets.

In Chile's oldest port, you are never too far away from the sea or the sky, and you are far too close to poverty. Since its leading industries abandoned the city for Santiago, its fortunes have slipped and it has become capital of the one of the country's poorest regions. One group of residents has…

1 September 2001Feature

Matt Mahlen examines concepts such as "duty", "liberty" and "responsibility" and the relationship between the French military and the education system.

In France, the strong ties that bind the national education system and the army are as old as compulsory schooling itself. Both institutions served in the building of the nation.

Schools served as one of the coloniser's main means of acculturation, enrolling pupils in 1914 to send out letters to the front or to organise fund-raising fairs which helped to maintain hatred and the warlike frenzy of the time. The Second World War saw the Marshal Petain1 children trained to sing…