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"Youth are never taken seriously, and we sometimes have ideas that would be good for all people." ~ Alex, Croatia

"... Some things do depend on us; war, consequences of the war, poverty; the influence of the church interfering with the state affairs, which must not be so. " ~ Ljubicia, Serbia

As we hear in these comments by two teenagers who have grown up in the shadow of political violence, their generation is aware of the past and its legacies. These brief quotes mention many details that young people in easier situations may not notice: "consequences of the war," "the influence of the church interfering with the state affairs," youth responsibility for the future ("some things do depend on us"), and their capacity to contribute to the benefit of society ("we sometimes have ideas that would be good for all people"). These reflections echo the letter we read by Visnja in the Preface, pointing out, ironically, that youth perspectives are usually ignored: "Who would be open to listening to the 'complaints of youth' and take them seriously?" On the other hand, those in power are stymied about how to create a future: "The old guard politicians are still shaking their heads, and they tell us 'it will be better' .... Yeah, right!" Scholars have contributed information about children and youth as the objects of study in situations of political violence, but the literature has offered little from the perspectives of young people themselves.

Previous research and practice have focused, in particular, on two types of responses by young people growing up during or after armed conflict: pathology and risk. After a brief review of these approaches, I discuss the need for inquiry into youth perspectives on political violence to fill the remaining gap in research and practice.


This work was originally published in "Human Development and Political Violence," published by Cambridge University Press.

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