Reducing children's vulnerability to violence: A case study from the Central African Republic

Children in the Central African Republic (CAR) have been living through cycles of conflict, instability and chronic poverty for decades. They live in a ‘forgotten crisis’ that has largely slipped off the international agenda and rarely makes it into the headlines. More than 13,000 children and adolescents are currently being exploited by armed groups. Children have been subjected to sexual abuse and gender based violence and face ongoing risk of being injured or killed. Many remain displaced and separated from their families, exposing them to even greater risk of abuse and exploitation. Since 2014, World Vision CAR has worked with 590 children and adolescents (ages 8 to 18 years) demobilised from armed groups in the subprefectures of Damara.2 Many of these children displayed signs of distress, suffered nightmares, presented social withdrawal, had difficulty concentrating and sometimes regressed to previous developmental behaviours (e.g. bedwetting or thumb-sucking). Former child soldiers also met with reticence and opposition from their communities, leaving the children feeling isolated, lonely and hopeless.

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