Engaging youth in non-violent alternatives to militarism

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Intercultural and Artistic Exchange

This past summer I worked with an organization in Guatemala named La Cambalacha. “La cambalacha” means “exchange” in the native Mayan language of Kakchiquel. This idea of exchange is central to all that La Cambalacha does. They do this mainly by bringing in workshop leaders from both within and outside of the country and community to share with youth a skill, practice, or art of theirs. Workshops are most often some sort artistic/creative activity such as painting, drawing, drumming, dance, etc. These workshops allow not only for creative exchange but also often allow for cultural exchange. I feel that these forms of exchange are extremely valuable in empowering youth to find their own nonviolent alternatives to militarism. Youth are provided with tools and skill to express themselves creatively as well as with various different people and perspectives to share insights, challenges, loves, hates, etc. with. I see the use of artistic exchange and rhythms with youth to hold many of the same benefits of using sports. Both sports and arts cans allow for cultural exchange, both provide skills and outlet for expression, both provide youth with safe spaces; both can be therapeutic and provide a sort of normalizing rhythm to lives.

I just wanted to share my own reflections on similarities of these tactics and the value of cultural and artistic exchange – especially with youth. Thoughts?

Pangea World Theater

The topic of (nonviolent) artistic endeavors to engage youth and/or provide an alternative to militarism is something I am quite passionate about. I have a few examples of local (to Minneapolis/St. Paul) organizations that work with youth on education and leadership, through diversity and the arts. This post focuses on Pangea World Theater. 

Pangea World Theater has a program called "Diverse Stages" which works with youth from a local high school to discuss issues relevant to them and then create these issues into artistic theatrical presentations. These students not only have the opportunity to perform these pieces for their community, they also have access to local artists and activists to help develop their performance. "Diverse Stages can be summed up in three words: Change, Challenge and Action. That is because Diverse Stages is not only about changing the way we view and use theater; it is about challenging our own attitudes towards the ‘other’ by becoming the ‘other’; and it is about challenging our minds and bodies to rise above conformity and routine in order to take action in our communities as well-informed protagonists."

Another program, offered through Pangea's International Institute For Movement and Theater Training, are classes in the South Indian martial art Kalaripayattu, which focuses on disciplining the physical body and attaining mental balance. Many movements are similar to those practiced in Yoga, with a focus on self-defense and increased energy and stamina. Pangea World Theater is one of the few institutions in the U.S. that offer training in this particular art form.  



Pillsbury House Theater

The 2nd local organization I had in mind for this posting is Pillsbury House Theater. Their "Chicago Avenue Project" is very similar to Pangea's Diverse Stages except Pillsbury works specifically with youth in their neighborhood, and these youth tend to be in elementary/middle school when they participate in the Chicago Avenue Project. The clip below explains PHT's particular process. 




I am in the Conflict Resolution Course and have been researching the tactic of providing an opt-in form rather than an opt-out form for high school students. Currently U.S. schools are required by federal law to submit all student contact information when requested by recruiters....unless parents fill out a form to opt-out. Unfortunately, not very many parents are informed about this option. A way to help with this would be to assume that the parents do not want their children's information given to recruiters unless they fill out an "opt-IN" form.

There is a particular example I've been researching of the Santa Cruz, California school district switching to the opt-in form in 2003. They were faced with lots of threats from the government to have their funding pulled. This question is particularly for Oskar who works with AFSC. It was on their website that I was first introduced to the idea. I was wondering if you know what happened to those schools? Did they lose their funding or are they still opt-in?

This tactic gives an example of using the law to try and loophole around recruitment and militarism. Are there any other examples of perhaps using the law or maybe interpreting the wording differently to an anti-militarism advantage?


Oskar may have additional information to contribute here, but the only school systems my office is aware of that tried different forms of "opt-in" all eventually backed off and resorted, instead, to making it really easy to opt-out. This includes Santa Cruz, which was on a list of about two dozen Calif. districts that were singled out for their noncompliance by federal and state officials.

The opt-in/opt-out issue absorbs a lot of attention that sometimes diverts people from other aspects of the school militarization issue. Before the law was passed to require schools to release student lists, the vast majority of schools were already doing so, and they no doubt would continue to even if the law were changed (which is currently not very likely). And even when students opt-out of the lists released by schools, it doesn't have much effect because the military has so many other ways to reach them. (I wrote a piece on this a few years ago: "Beyond Opt-Out.") A more strategic area to focus on is the military's use of its aptitude test, the ASVAB, to secure much more detailed information on high school students (about 600,000 students/year). Organized efforts to curb ASVAB testing, including statewide legislative campaigns, are growing and succeeding, which will hamper recruiters more than trying to deny them access to student lists that can only be used for relatively blind cold calls.

Another focal point for organizing is recruiting activities in schools. Face-to-face contacts with students are much more effective than cold calls to phone lists, and now a growing number of schools are looking at how to limit the aggressive tactics being used by recruiters on school property. School districts like Los Angeles and Chicago have adopted strict limits on recruiter visits and behavior, and as long as they are given the same access as employers and colleges, such policies conform to federal laws.

I realize this dialogue is about to close. For those who would like more information on these issues and the organizing that is being done in the U.S., I would recommend subscribing to the national counter-recruitment discussion group maintained by the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY). You can do so at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/counter-recruitment/. The Web site www.nnomy.org is also a good resource, though it is in the proces of being redesigned and updated.

Rick Jahnkow
Project YANO

Opt-in clause

Just wanted to add one interesting thing to think about...

Today 4 United States Senators sent a letter to the CEO of the online network Facebook, asking that users should be able to "opt-in" rather than "opt-out" of sharing private information with third-party websites.  They were concerned about how people's information can be used, and were also concerned that not enough people take advantage of opt-out forms who would actually prefer to do so.  More information can be found on this news coverage from CNN at http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/04/27/senators.facebook/index.html?hpt=T2.

I just thought this kind of showed the values of the United States with respect to militarism and the army.  It's preferable to have an "opt-in" form for Facebook, but "necessary" to have an "opt-out" form for the military. Demonstration of the institutionalization of militarism?

What is the role of family, community, government and media?
  • What role, if any, do families and communities play in militarizing youth? 
  • What is the role of the government?  Does the government have a responsibility to protect youth from being militarized?  How can the government be held accountable for its role in militarization of youth?
  • What is the role of the media in perpetuating or reversing the culture of militarism?  What is the impact of media on youth in regards to militarism?

Share your thoughts and ideas below by replying to this comment!

Education: another group who teach youth about militarism

I am a student who is part of the Conflict Resolution Class.

I think there are significant roles played by each of these three groups: families, communities and especially the media, which continue to help endorse militarism in our society. After all, most children do not live in isolation. They are influenced by those closest around them. But I would also like to add another group to this category; our educational system also upholds militarism, because children who are in school learn the history of conflict and war. They are taught here in America that George Washington and other American generals and leaders are heroes to be glorified, not people to be criticized.

I especially think that the media is one, of not the most, influential way through which children and youth learn about militarism. Also it is important to note that this is where they learn violence as well (and, of course, violence relates directly to militarism). At a young age, children are taught to become desensitized by violence witnessed in the media. It often becomes a source of comedy. Likewise then, children also learn to not question what they see of the military whether it is in the media or in real life.

But my question then is: Are there any ways to positively use the media to educate youth on specific nonviolent alternatives? And if so, does anyone have specific examples of what is most effective in doing this?

Education's role in militarism and countering militarism

Katherine, I appreciate your comment about the role of education in upholding militarism.

I used to facilitate a group of Peace Educators who gathered for in-service workshops three times a year. One teacher introduced himself by explaining that he came to get a different name. He taught history in a US high school and found out his students called him the "War Teacher" because the text book led from one war to the next; it was the dominant frame for understanding US history. He wanted to be known as a "Peace Teacher" but felt isolated and even threatened by trying to address this alone in his school.

The Peace Educators workshop gave him and others the space to do what we are doing here: tell stories, compare notes, and learn new tactics to use in our work. Such gatherings also helped diminish his sense of isolation and helped encourage other teachers to make changes in a system that uncritically encouraged militarism.

One of our Peace Educator workshops focused on military recruiting in US high schools. I wrote an article about military recruiting as a cultural and legal norm that teachers could problematize and then use to challenge this aspect of militarism in public schools. Although we came up with some ideas in our workshop, I would like to pose the question to participants in this dialogue:

How have you (or others) countered military recruitment - in US schools, or in any country where armed forces recruit youth?


Education's role in militarism and countering militarism

mcklein wrote:

Although we came up with some ideas in our workshop, I would like to pose the question to participants in this dialogue:

How have you (or others) countered military recruitment - in US schools, or in any country where armed forces recruit youth?


Project YANO has tried almost all of the possible approaches and activities for doing this in the U.S., including classroom work, high school career fair displays, ads in student newspapers, leafleting, and action at the policy level with regard to JROTC, military aptitude testing in schools (the ASVAB) and the release of student contact information to recruiters. Many of the details are in a report that's on Project YANO's Web site: Using Equal Access to Counter Militarism in High Schools. It also addresses the question of litigation that often comes up when counter-recruitment groups encounter school resistance.

Rick Jahnkow

Peace and Human rights education

krbyfer wrote:

I am a student who is part of the Conflict Resolution Class.

I think there are significant roles played by each of these three groups: families, communities and especially the media, which continue to help endorse militarism in our society. After all, most children do not live in isolation. They are influenced by those closest around them. But I would also like to add another group to this category; our educational system also upholds militarism, because children who are in school learn the history of conflict and war. They are taught here in America that George Washington and other American generals and leaders are heroes to be glorified, not people to be criticized.

I especially think that the media is one, of not the most, influential way through which children and youth learn about militarism. Also it is important to note that this is where they learn violence as well (and, of course, violence relates directly to militarism). At a young age, children are taught to become desensitized by violence witnessed in the media. It often becomes a source of comedy. Likewise then, children also learn to not question what they see of the military whether it is in the media or in real life.

But my question then is: Are there any ways to positively use the media to educate youth on specific nonviolent alternatives? And if so, does anyone have specific examples of what is most effective in doing this?

i agree with you that education and media can play a vital role in non violent alternatives to militarism and i am working on the same as We are providing Human Rights Education , Peace Education and Journalism Sessions with the students to enlighten their outlook 

and enlighten the outlook of the students in objective manner to reject violence and violent views and increase the capacity of communities to reject violent extremists  and help counter extremist propaganda in Pakistan that pulls individuals into radicalization  and then into extremism.

Role of families and communities

Families and communities play a significant role in defining and shaping the attitudes of adolescents towards militarism.  In some communities where local defence forces have been established to protect the community from rebel attacks, a social expectation and pressure exists that all able-bodied children, youth and adults contribute to the defence of the local area. Parents actively push their children to do this work; and sometimes the children continue to live at home and even go to school while moonlighting as part of the local defence forces (e.g. Mai Mai forces in eastern DRC).

Oftentimes, however, families and communities actively welcome support to divert youth, especially children, from becoming involved with armed forces or groups and to provide them with viable alternatives to dangerous military work. These alternatives may take the form of back-to-school initiatives or catch-up classes, vocational training or support to set up a small business. Activities that target 'at risk' children or youth at the community-level coupled with involvement in community based activities through youth clubs, awareness raising etc have proven most effective. Hopefully we'll have some examples of such programmes in subsequent postings.

For young people who have been militarized and are then demobilized for whatever reason, families and communities play a critical role in facilitating (or not) that person's ability to successfully adapt to civilian life and reintegrate into his or her family and community life afterwards. 

As such, the role of families and communities is an important consideration in any programme aimed at providing alternatives to youth militarization, in addition to considering the role of the media and the government.


Role of Parents

Hello, my name is Lindsey and I am a student in the Conflict Resolution class participating in the dialogue.

I was brainstorming how youth's ideas of the military are formed and I have seen often in my peers that they tend to hold very similar viewpoints to their parents- the connection is obvious and the influence huge. I think that the parent's view of militarism can either be helpful (in the sense that it discourages militarism) or vice-versa. Thus, if we are trying to enlighten the youth, it is important that a tactic or strategy include possibly some of the most influential people in their lives- their parents. What types of tactics have people used to try to incorporate parents into the movement to encourage nonviolent alternatives to militarism? Obviously parents must have their childrens best interest in mind, so there must be a lot of potential in such tactics.



Long-Term Investment

Lindsey27 wrote:

I think that the parent's view of militarism can either be helpful (in the sense that it discourages militarism) or vice-versa. Thus, if we are trying to enlighten the youth, it is important that a tactic or strategy include possibly some of the most influential people in their lives- their parents. 

I think the question Lindsey raises has a direct connection with an earlier point that was made by Oskar about the difficulty that can be had by Counter-Recruiters trying to connect with a generation of youth that can be very different from their own. By seeking to find and connect with parents about issues of Counter-Recruitment, the generation gap can be that much smaller or even non-existent.  I think it's true that those with whom we have the most genuine and natural connections are those with whom we can often have the largest sphere of influence.  

Additionally, I think a significant benefit that can come from focusing on parents is that by concentrating on young parents, a consistent message of non-violence can be continually reinforced by them in the home for years, as opposed to trying to intervene during the vulnerable teenage years when a young person might be in a position to join a military. I also think parents might have a greater receptivity to this information when their children are still very young, as it would be harder for them to imagine their ____ (fill in the blank age) child being recruited and participating in war.  At least within the U.S. culture, there is still the stereotype that many mothers cry as their children go off to join the military, but how much do these mothers think about this or talk with their children about it for all the years prior?  I imagine that by providing young parents with some of this key information about the pressures their children will later face, they can be presenting and encouraging alternatives for their children for years so that fewer and fewer young people even consider talking with a Recruiter or entertaining the military as a possibility at all.

Admittedly, I imagine that the hardest part of such work is that there are no immediate results, and that it seems less pressing to spend time with young parents when Recruiters are talking with a young high schooler that same day who is in jeopardy of enlisting.  However, I think that focusing resources toward young parents could led to the cultural change that makes Recruiting a near impossible task no matter how much money the military spends.  While there will probably always be rebellious teens who want to intentionally contradict the wishes of their parents, these are not the majority of Recruits today, and if such individuals were the only ones considering enlistment, they would be far easier to reach than the thousands who join confident they will make their parents proud. 

I realize that this does little to answer Lindsey's questions as to what has been done, but I did want to emphasize and expand on how important I think this method can be to the long-term success of demilitarizing our world.  With less than one year out of the military myself, I can only cite personal conversations with friends as the "work" I've done in this regard, but I am curious as well to know what others have accomplished or tried in this regard.

Daniel, thanks for this new

Daniel, thanks for this new perspective- engaging parents of younger children. It is true that it is difficult to assign resources to such a campaign because the threat is less imminent. However on the other hand, the benefits could be three fold in that the children would grow up with a better informed view of the military, thus decreasing their risk on enlistment. Also, both the parents and youth would already be active voices in their communities when the age for recruiting is reached. Also, as has been discussed in other areas of the forum, the most effective way to communicate to people is through relationships- parents to parents, youth to youth, etc. I had originally asked the question in regards to parents of teenagers, because I know this is important, but you are right that parents with children of any age will have their best interests in mind. Are there any solid tactics for this type of approach?



Student for Justice and Peace

Creating a Culture of Peace

This past summer I was fortunate enough to intern with the MN Fellowship of Reconciliation and through that experience I helped plan/facilitate a nonviolent, interfaith retreat called "Creating a Culture of Peace". This retreat is focused on adults (or adults who bring with them their teenage children who are willing to engage) and transforming how they view nonviolence in their personal lives, active nonviolence in their public lives, etc. The interfaith component adds a rich context and can add a foundation or grounding for participants who need to answer a deeper calling to do this type of work. The program is about 3 days long, with a very regulated agenda. They discuss nonviolent theory and practices, have reflections and community building activities, roleplay and design actions plans for their specific needs and communities. When participants were reflecting on their experience, it kept coming up how excited they were to share their new ideas and practices with their families, friends, and communities. I believe this program, Creating a Culture of Peace, is a positive step in the direction of transforming adults in our society that have perhaps never perviously considered how militaristic/violent our society is and what they can do about it. CCP is known to be an educational and empowering experience, and one that should be put forth as a tactic for adults and then also adapted to become a tactic for youth. 


Media message: Joining the military will get you girls!

Ukranian military commercial on youtube

This is a youtube video of a Ukranian commercial encouraging young Ukranian men to join the military.  The message?  "Joining the military will get you girls!" As they say, 'sex sells' right?

With government-sponsored media - commercials, TV shows - and other media funded by governments like videos and video games - how can we compete?  How do we get our message out about alternatives to joining the military, when our adversary seemingly has such an abudance of resources?


Fighting the Global Threat of Error by using laughter

Thankfully, our intern, Ali, reminded me of a great example that address my question above - using humor to embarrass recruiters!  Ali wrote a blog post on this great example from the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (CIRCA).  In response to the global threat of error, CIRCA has launched Operation AWOL (Armed with Outrageous Laughter).  This video was filmed during one of their missions:

This approach is powerful for me because it forces us all to see in front of us that we do live in a culture of militarism.  The clowns are wearing military fatigue uniforms but they are clearly not at the recruitment center to join the armed forces!  They are there to challenge the status quo for those working as recruiters but also for all of us that walk that street everyday and those of us watching the video.  And the beauty of using humor to do this is that it doesn't scare us off - by its nature it includes us in its effort.  I want to go out and get a clown outfit! 

Any other examples of taking a humor approach to countering recruitment tactics - or any other approaches?

Thanks for the great conversation, everyone!

How can we engage youth & role models to share the message?

Chelsea wrote:

How can we get youth passionate enough about the situation to want to participate in the movement in a more active role?

Great question, Chelsea!  And though I don't know the answer, I think I may have a possible example of how an American NGO made is super cool for teens to 'Make Hip Hop Not War'!  The Hip Hop Caucus launched the Make Hip Hop Not War National Bus Tour in 2007 and visited sixteen cities with "Hip Hop Artists, Iraq War Veterans, youth leaders, peace and security experts, and Members of Congress. The campaign held events, rallies and roundtables in each city and educated audiences on the costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and motivated young people to take action and have their voices heard.

The continuation of the Make Hip Hop Not War campaign throughout 2007 focused on calls on Congress to de-fund the War in Iraq; building awareness about the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for communities in the US; and exposing the incredible humanitarian tragedy and the plight of Iraqi Refugees in the Middle East because of the war in Iraq."

How can we counter government-sponsored efforts to recruit youth?  Speak to the youth in their language - let's get their idols, their musicians, their actors, their role-models to stand up and say that there are other options.  Are there other examples of engaging the youth in this way?  Any idea on what the impact of this campaign was?

Look to the Past

I think the perfect example of how youth were spoken to in their own language, with their idols, their musicians, and their role models, was the peace movement of the 1960s and 1970s.  Honestly I'm not sure of any other example of a social phenomenon that brought so many youth together to create a cultural and political rebellion. There was creative expression, sexual freedom, political ideas being shared, and most importantly music! It was the movement that sparked a generation of youth into action. The movement spread because popular culture was part of the movement. The popular music of the day was anti-war and pro-love. Music had a message and youth were listening. It made people examine their own moral convictions and principles, which lead them to question if what their country was engaged in was right. While you can't downplay the role of the media in creating widespread disdain for the War in Vietnam among the American public, the pop culture of the day had space for youth to be vehemently opposed to war.


Wherein lies the problem, the popular culture of today is not concerned with peace or love. It is concerned with sex, money, and the accumulation of material things. The ideal of popular culture in the United States today is to own expensive clothing; strive to be like a sex icon, and to accumulate money, because those things will guarantee happiness. The problem is that the culture that is promoting peace, love, justice, environmentalism, and equitable treatment of all human beings, is the counter culture, not the dominant cultural norm. The failure is that the youth (at least in the US) are either largely apathetic or they choose to get their information from one ideologically charged source, whether it be their parents or a specific media outlet. People’s favorite political commentators veil the rhetoric of our time and dupe the American public into believing whatever they see on TV.  People accept things at face value and leave it at that. If the American public were constantly bombarded with graphic images of the effects of the wars we wage, maybe it would be an impetus for the same sort of movement that we have seen happen in the past.


Can anyone speak to what they see as being a possible catalyst for engaging youth through popular culture?


I would also like to respond to your last question, Chelsea. There is an organization called Peace Jam, that some of you might be familiar with, that brings together high school youth and Nobel Peace Prize Laureates to work on community service projects, leadership, community building, peace education, etc. The local Upper Midwest affiliate of Peace Jam is called Youthrive. While Peace Jam's overall mission is not necessarily about demilitarization, their message and work is about engaging youth in the peace moment and as such I think they play a vital role in the overall movement towards creating a culture of positive peace.

Youthrive is an organization that is run by and for youth, making it a unique institution where youth can become empowered to be leaders TODAY, and have access to the tools to help facilitate this process. Youthrive has put together a video that I shall post a link to below; introducing their youth leaders, the work that they're doing, and the impact it's having on their personal lives and their communities. 



Violence towards Women: A Result of Militarism

Wow. This commercial just reminds me of how militarism in general is used to not only reinforce what a man needs to be, which his brave, strong, in change, and aggressive, but it also just shows how militarism also encourages sexism and violence towards women. It reminds me of the article “Sexism and the War System” by Betty Reardon (an article I read and discussed in another class). Her basic point of the article is that our whole war system is built on upholding values which encourage men’s dominance over women. Militarism and patriarchy often go together to shape this power dynamic between men and women. She notes that the more militaristic society has become the more sexist is also becomes  

So than I have a Question: Are any of you practitioners specifically targeted young boys to help them see alternative to joining the military? This could possible cut down on the violence also directed towards women and girls. And if you are working with young boys, how are you accomplishing your goals when the role of strength, violence, etc. is associated with manhood?

Importance of Gender and Militarism

I think you've made an incredibly important point: increasing militarism can also greatly increase an attitude of sexism.

Recently, we had a panel of war veterans come and speak out against war at the University of St. Thomas. One of our panelists was a woman who had been subject to harassment and intimidation. She questioned why any woman would want to serve in the military when she would be treated as sub-human during her service. I wonder how we can expect men to spend years in the military, encouraged by their peers to harass women, and not come home to treat the women in their lives similarly.

It seems both genders are duped right from the start. Are there any tactics currently occurring that are promoting more just gender relations to decrease an attitude of militarism?


(Conflict Resolution Course)

Sexism in the Military

This reminds me of an interesting article I read lately from the U.S. Time Magazine, which detailed many statistics and stories about how women are treated in the United States military.  The article can be found online at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1968110,00.html. Particularly captivating for me were the statistics on how many rapes of female soldiers go unreported, how they are responded to, and how an institution that is supposedly for "protection" fails to protect a growing number of its own workers.

My point in relation to the above topic is that women in the military seem to facing potential for an increased amount of abuse and sexism.  Could this be used as part of a tactic to create non-violent alternatives to young women entering the military?  While it does not solve the problem entirely, it could focus specifically on a growing demographic of soldiers in the United States military.  Until the government and the military clean up their act, would this be an important statistic to share with young women who are considering entering the military?

Secondly, I believe it also speaks to the nature of the military institution (as the Time author may allude to).  An institution which is supposed to protect people fails to do so.  Meanwhile, as others have stated, the institution has made it a task to make people more aggressive.  This might be another key point to raise for youth considering military service.

Finally, I am interested to hear about how the military protects or does not protect women (or men, for that matter) in countries outside the United States.  Do any dialogue participants have any stories or information about this issue?

Military (peacekeepers) - and dangers for women and girls


Thank you for sharing this article about the abuses women in the military face. I came across this article from 2006, Sexual Abuse By Military Recruiters,  that highlights that the dangers to women from military personnel don't just occur once they have signed up for service, but also for those who are being recruited to serve. The article stated:

"At least 35 Army recruiters, 18 Marine Corps recruiters, 18 Navy recruiters and 12 Air Force recruiters were disciplined for sexual misconduct or other inappropriate behavior with potential enlistees in 2005, according to records obtained by the AP under dozens of Freedom of Information Act requests. That's significantly more than the handful of cases disclosed in the past decade.

The AP also found:
-  The Army, which accounts for almost half of the military, has had 722 recruiters accused of rape and sexual misconduct since 1996."

I found it especially alarming that - "The victims are typically between 16 and 18 years old, and they usually are thinking about enlisting. They usually meet the recruiters at their high schools, but sometimes at malls or recruiting offices."

You had also wanted to know more about "how the military protects or does not protect women (or men, for that matter) in countries outside the United States."

The UN Peacekeeping Forces have also come under scrutiny in the past years. There record of "protecting" women has not been stellar. PeaceWomen, of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom has tracked information and resolutions within the UN system. You can find more information here: http://peacewomen.org/un/pkwatch/pkwatch.html

The dangers of sexual exploitation and abuse of women and girls increases exponentially in situations of economic deprivation (poverty, refugee situations) and conflict (civil unrest, occupation, and war).

When CVT was working in the refugees camps in Guinea, I was struck by the simple lack of privacy afforded to women and girls, the female latrines all had holes poked in them whereas the men/boys latrines remained intact. The everyday tasks of women and girls put them in precarious situations (collecting watere, wood) and the women/girls were trying their best to accompany each other to provide some protection to each other as a way to be less vulnerable.

Sexual assault reports rising in the U.S. military

Thank you Andre and Nancy for sharing those articles about sexual abuse in the military. I would like to share a blog I wrote that is on a similar topic-- "Sexual assault reports rising in the U.S. military". The US Department of Defense recently released a report announcing an 11 percent increase in the number of sexual assaults in the US military during the 2009 fiscal year, including a 16 percent increase in combat areas. Although the government insists this is due to an increase in the reporting of sexual assaults, they offer no evidence to support this claim, and other independent reports have found that the strains between men and women living in close quarters in combat zones has only worsened the problem.  In 2009, 3,230 complaints were filed, involving members of the military as either victims or perpetrators. In 2008, that number was 2,908. The typical case was an 18-25 year old junior male service member assaulting a woman, and frequently involved alcohol.

Since 2004, the Department of Defense has been altering its policies to make it easier for victims to come forward, while also offering treatment to those abused. They have also harshened punishments for perpetrators. However, victims are allowed to report the crime without notifying their commanding officers or police, and this has decreased the number of cases that result in an investigation or trial. Recent figures show that in 983 out of 2,284 sexual assault reports, the accused were punished, and of those just 42% were prosecuted under a court-martial.

I think the U.S. military should be applauded for altering their policies (somewhat) in the last several years, but clearly more drastic measure need to be taken. Women are often afraid to notify commanding officers or police for fear of being punished, demoted, or ignored, and this significantly reduces the amount of perpetrators that are prosecuted. Victims need to be assured that they will face no punishment, whatsoever, for reporting sexual assaults to the proper authorities.

sexism in the U.S. military


Thank you so much for the numbers and statistics regarding the reporting of sexual assult in the U.S, military at present. As much work as there is to be done, it is still very life-affirming to know the leaps and bounds that are currently (or have currently) been made.

I think that it is so interesting to realize that forms of sexual assault and sexism have less to do with the brutality of the wrong-doer and more to do with the way in which being female/femininity is devalued in our culture. I think this shows through is all aspects of our society, but especially in how the military functions- perhaps because of the way in which its members are encouraged to encompass what it is to be an American male. I often wonder what can be done by the average human being to take emphasis off this devalueing of what is to be female and instead emphasize what it is to value people equally. I think this would be key to doing away with a lot of opression, violence, injustice- simply the key to doing away with hate.

Jess, I think you are right


I think you are right to comment that being female/femininity is devalued in our culture and especially in the military. The power structures are overtly male dominated and the military itself attempts to strip women of any connection to her gender identity.  When you mentioned how the members of the military are encouraged to encompass what it is to be an "American Male", how is that different than being a male period? Is it specifically the attitude of American superiority coupled with stereotypical testosterone driven male, or were you indicating that other cultures value women more fully, more equally? I guess what I was trying to get at is that while in the United States there are prevalent attitudes of male superiority; I wouldn't necessarily say they are the norm in all of our societal institutions.

Can anyone elaborate on gender roles in society and in the military, or compare and contrast them?

the community's impact on militarism

I think it is obvious that almost always how militaristic or violent a community in which a child is brought up in/exposed to is extremely influential in the way in which they value violence/militarism and the role it plays in their lives. I, personally, believe in the power of, specifically, words and language and the idea that the words we use to articulate have the power to shape who we are and the lives we lead. \

That being said I am wondering if there are any movements in which personal youth development is focused on. Perhaps movements focused on establishing nonviolent lifestyles for children at a young age, or programs aimed at nurturing the spirit of children to be peaceful and positive; to build things up rather than tear others down. I know this idea is in the mission of many programs for children, but i am wondering if there are any aimed specifically at this, especially for young children (preschool aged and up, maybe).

Countering Militarism at a Wee Age

You bring up an interesting point Jess. I have heard of communities that raise children together, and intentionally teach their children the values of non-violence, sustainability, etc. Perhaps this is a way to counter a world-view of militarism at a very young age.

Your post also makes me think of countering violence in children’s personal lives. I feel as though the more violence children witness in their homes, the more likely they are to see it as an acceptable way to interact with the world around them. Are there any tactics that work to prevent child abuse and domestic violence as a way to counter militarism?

I would be interested to see if there are such programs that see their work connected to the broader goal of reducing the attitude of militarism.


(Conflict Resolution)



You make a good point about working against domestic violence and child abuse as a way of countering militarism. I think it would be great if there were some tactic or strategy in place for this. However, I wouldn't be surprised if they are rare. I have to wonder which came first? The militarism or the domestic violence? Can you stop one without first stopping the other? I think another concern with this kind of tactic would be the unwritten code of silence surrounding domestic violence. If communities don't outright allow it, battered families tend to feel ashamed to talk about it, somehow feeling that it's their fault. I don't know if that fact ties into militarism or not, but it presents a hurdle that I think many organization working in this field face.

I think you're absolutely right, that violence starts early, and perhaps there are organizations out there who do this kind of work. These are just my thoughts on the possibilities.


the community's impact on militarism

I think it is obvious that almost always how militaristic or violent a community in which a child is brought up in/exposed to is extremely influential in the way in which they value violence/militarism and the role it plays in their lives. I, personally, believe in the power of, specifically, words and language and the idea that the words we use to articulate have the power to shape who we are and the lives we lead.

That being said I am wondering if there are any movements in which personal youth development is focused on. Perhaps movements focused on establishing nonviolent lifestyles for children at a young age, or programs aimed at nurturing the spirit of children to be peaceful and positive; to build things up rather than tear others down. I know this idea is in the mission of many programs for children, but i am wondering if there are any aimed specifically at this, especially for young children (preschool aged and up, maybe).

The government's role in militarizing youth

The government can also have a big impact on the militarization of youth. For example, in 2001, Mugabe introduced the National Youth Service Programme in Zimbabwe. The initiative was introduced with the goal of instilling the following values in the country's younger citizens: national identity, patriotism, unity, discipline and self reliance. While the program was presumably a platform for youth to participate in service projects and develop leadership skills, it is in practice a training camp for youth militia. With the government playing such a prominent role in the militarization of its youth, how can it be held accountable by the international community? In 2005, at a UN world summit, state leaders (including Mugabe) adopted the following language regarding the responsibility to protect:

 138. Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means. We accept that responsibility and will act in accordance with it. The international community should, as appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility and support the United Nations in establishing an early warning capability.

 139. The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. We stress the need for the General Assembly to continue consideration of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of the Charter and international law. We also intend to commit ourselves, as necessary and appropriate, to helping States build capacity to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and to assisting those which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out.

Considering the case of Zimbabwe, is this enough for the international community to intervene in the increasing militarization of the youth by Mugabe and his party?

Share stories of success

In your work engaging youth in nonviolent alternatives to militarism, what has worked?  Share these stories of success by replying to this comment!

Soldiers' Mothers of St Petersburg training & protecting youth

I know we must have some great success stories out there - Oskar already mentioned the promising work of assisting youth in their own efforts of reaching their peers.  Ali also mentioned the work of IVAW and their counter-recruitment program. I wanted to add, to this section on Sharing Stories of Success, a tactic from our tactics database on the role of parents in counter-recruitment tactics (in response to Lindsey and Daniel's comments above on the role of parents).

Soldiers MothersSoldiers’ Mothers of Saint Petersburg offers educational sessions to conscripts, army recruits and family members of Russian soldiers to inform them of human rights violations by the military and the possibility of refusing conscription. They discuss human rights and the articles of the constitution that apply to conscription and learn how to write letters to the authorities demanding their rights. About 120,000 people have participated in the training sessions over 12 years and about 90,000 have protected their legal right not to serve in the army. About 5,000 people who were tortured in the army successfully petitioned not to return to their units. Soldiers’ Mothers of Saint Petersburg educates conscripts, army recruits and family members of Russian soldiers about their legal rights so that they can effectively exercise them. This approach gives people the information and skills they need to claim their constitutional right not to serve in the military or not to return to units where they have suffered ill-treatment.  [Taken from the tactic summary: Giving people the information and skills that they need to claim their rights]

This NGO was formed in 1989 and they are still active - in January of 2010 the Soldiers' Mothers of St Petersburg was quoted in Radio Free Europe for their findings of two conscripts in Russia dying due to lack of medical care.

Parents certainly play a crucial role in a youth's decision on whether or not to join the military.  Parents also play an important role in their community.  When a soldier's mother speaks - we listen! There are many other counter-recruitment organizations formed by parents throughout the world - it would be great to hear of more examples! 

Opt-out and alternatives

Southwest High School in Minneapolis had a strong youth-initiated movement in 2006-07 to counter military recruiting. A youth movement mobilized around two counter-recruitment tactics that I am aware of: recruiter tabling and opt-out provisions of No Child Left Behind.

Whenever a military recruiter was scheduled to table at the school, the student group would invite Vets for Peace or a similar group to table in the same space. In that way, whatever messages the military recruiter presented could be addressed by a veteran whose alternative view could not be easily dismissed. I understand that over time this tactic led to reducing the number and frequency of visits by military recruiters.

The No Child Left Behind act provides access to high school students' contact information by military recruiters, but also includes an "opt-out" provision for families who do not want their child's information to be made available. Students at Southwest petitioned to have the opt-out form added to the school's website and led an education campaign to alert students and families to this option. I don't know how many families used the form, but this post has reminded me that I will need to fill out that form in two years when my daughter enters high school, unless the law can be changed by that time.


The 'Leave My Child Alone' project (Opt-out campaign)

Leave My Child Alone videoThanks for sharing this, Mike!  I found a project called 'Leave My Child Alone'.  This is a collection of information and resources for students, teachers, parents and anyone else interested in getting the word out on the 'opt-out' option.  The information here is really useful for anyone interested in taking action on this issue - they have flyers and forms that people can download and handout at their school, they have a letter-writing campaign, and even an 'adopt a school board' campaign! 

Like many campaigns, they have created a video to tell people about the issue and their desire to change the status-quo.  It is a good video - does the job at explaining the issue and what can be done about it - but what I really like about it is that they have downloadable files of the video so that activists can take the video and use it themselves to engage more people! 

I think this is a great

I think this is a great tactic, answers one of my questions from a previous post about how to get parents directly involved in their children's futures. I am curious how the video reaches parents though, as in how is it distributed to parents of high school kids? 

Success Stories

Since I mostly work from a national perch it is very rare for me to see success stories at the grassroots level first hand.  However, being in constant contact with those in the field is what I do and a lot of what I hear and see comes by way of my colleagues in the AFSC Regional Offices around the United States who are doing great work with youth (http://afsc.org/program/youth-and-militarism-program).

While the work my colleagues are doing varies from organizing Alternative Career fairs to tabling at high schools, the common denominator is that they are all working to help youth become empowered to demilitarize their lives.

An example of this can be found in our AFSC Hawai'i office.  Many people in Hawai'i, like so many others throughout the US, view the US military with adoration.  Recently, our staff in there helped to create a shift in attitude among 19 Hawaiian youth from the idea that the US military in Hawai’i is a positive force and necessary for security to the idea that true security lies in social, economic, cultural and environmental justice.  Through discussion and an examination of history most of these young people were never comprehensivley exposed to they came to understand that the US military wrongfully took land when it invaded and overthrew Hawai’ian government and continues to violate and use these lands to invade and occupy other countries.

In the Oakland, California area, our AFSC staff constantly meets with youth and students to discuss the concerns most military recruiters will avoid discussing with potential recruits.  During an outreach and workshop effort conducted by our Bay Area staff one student from Ed Shands Adult School in Oakland and two students from Logan High School in Union City for a total of three students claimed they were convinced about joining the Navy and Air Force respectively. All three claimed they were no longer considering enlistment after the workshop ended.

The AFSC Washington, DC office recently engaged more than 75 D.C. public and private school students through weekly human rights learning sessions. Specifically, they used “Article 3” of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security) to reflect on the effects on militarism on young people.  99.9% of students who participated in our human rights learning sessions publically rejected the militarization of youth.  One school in particular created a “peace club” as a forum for students to deepen their understanding of peace building using a human rights framework.

As you see, there really is no cookie-cutter approach that works best.  All efforts, even those that are hard to quantify, are worth the energy put into them.  Sometimes we never really know what kind of impact we will have or if we have made an impact and we know that we can never reach everyone.  The story of the starfish and the little boy on the beach (http://www.adifference.com/starfish-story.htm) comes to my mind when people ask me why even bother if our end goal seems so far away.  I reflect on this story because I know that for every young person we encounter, in some small or large way, "It's going to make a big difference to that one". 

how to empower


I got super excited while reading your post! Thank you so much for sharing, especially your personal motivation for doing this work. Also, it sounds like the AFSC is doing such great things.

You said that you help youth become empowered to demilitarize their lives. Can you talk about this a bit more? I know there are probably a myraid of different strategies and tactics that aid in doing this, but what are more general and maybe even universal things one can do to aid others in becoming empowered? Do you have an advice or specific thoughts?

 I think it's such a beautiful and organic way of deconstructing our culture's love for violence.

Again, thank you so much. I am truly imspired.



Jess Novak (Conflict Transformation student)

Share challenges and opportunities
  • What are the challenges that you face in this work?  How have you overcome these challenges? 
  • How do you measure the impact of your work?  
  • Are there new opportunities that you see in this work? 

Share your experiences, challenges, ideas, resources, and tools below by replying to this comment!

From the "duh!" dept.

The name of this discussion is clearly "New Tactics," so it should have been clear.  As proof of "we see what we want to see," i proceeded to write comments related to strategy when I replied to Kristin's email.

Since this is my first post on anything here, let me know if I should start a new discussion or what.  My own interest is in strategy, so I don't want to muck up a discussion on tactics.  Apologies for getting off on the wrong foot. 

Here's what I sent to Kristin yesterday:


one thing i've noticed after many similar discussions is they tend to focus--immediately or eventually--on important but narrowly-focused items, sort of a "best practices" listing of what activists have experienced.  what follows is usually a discussion of how we can do what we've been doing, but do it more/better/faster.  for sure we need to do more of the things we've traditionally done and learn how to do them better.  but if we stop there we'll mostly be talking tactically, not strategically, like the antiwar movement has done for so long. 

i'm no strategic genius, but here's what i've learned that seems to make sense regarding the kinds of discussions we're entering.  (note: that is, if I would have picked up on what the theme actually is...)

while we need to oppose war funding and numerous other pieces of congressional legislation;
while we need to support the few good bits of legislation that get introduced;
while we need to limit/eliminate the presence of recruiters in schools;
while we need to support g.i. resisters and petition against d.u. and point out the sexism in the military and the sexual abuse that is rampant and work against many other individual evils in this militarized culture or ours, it is helpful to keep a larger framework in mind.

there are many ways such a framework could be defined.  here's one that seems to make more and more sense to me.

historically we know and many of us understand that fundamental change doesn't come from the white house or congress or the courts.  it comes because of fundamental changes in the culture.  law follows culture.  national policy follows culture.  elections follow culture.
of course there are times when the courts or congress can help influence culture as well, but instances of real, fundamental change being espoused by political leadership before it's demanded by the citizenry damn rare.

so, what does that mean for our organizing?  well, i guess that's the $3 trillion question and i'm not going to say i can answer it completely and certainly not in one email.  but it suggests a framework for discussion.

for example, if we assume a focus on changing the culture, it will mean that by definition our work is long-term.  there are no shortcuts or silver bullets.  it means that grassroots work and building relationships among people also committed to social change and to a sustainable world is critical.  do we have to fight the really big evils and oppose the really bad legislation--yes.  but in my view we have to recognize that those things can't be where the majority of our effort goes and that even when we DO focus on those items, we do it in a strategic way.  by that i mean, if we're going to do a petition against d.u. or get people to call on a particular piece of legislation, the key thing is to build connections, relationships and power at the bottom.  so the most important thing isn't whether or not the legislation gets defeated/passed, it's whether we've built into our organizing a way to keep in touch with people who've identified themselves as interested and involve them in the movement.  simple as sign-up sheets at meetings, tracking who responds to email alerts, the host of new methods in social networking, etc.  all things that are simple and pretty obvious, but also things which we either forget to do, or don't figure out a way to use the data once we've remembered to collect it. 

we are living in a militarized culture.  you can readily see it all around us--a $20+ billion dollar a year recruiting budget gets turned into advertisements everywhere, promotional crap and recruiters by the thousands.  military values, symbols, uniforms, customs etc. are held in esteem by society.  mlk day parades in major cities, including the one where he was killed, memphis , are clogged with military units, etc. etc. etc., ad nauseum.   to change a culture so deeply rooted in militarism requires serious organizing and relationship-building.

and what would we like to see in place of the current culture of militarism, commercialism and death?  well, one that valued the earth, the human inhabitants along with the critters; that provided us all with a better life (not necessarily more "stuff") including things like health care, education etc.  and what stands in the way?  primarily the fact that we don't govern ourselves--hence a key to finding a common desire among people working for a better world in many, many different arenas.

a good example of long-term, attention to detail, relationship-based organizing that addressed fundamental issues of economic and political control is a movement like the populists of the end of the 19th century.  lots of lessons there that we don't take time to learn. 

after 15 years or so of hard, grassroots organizing, their aspirations came to be articulated in the form of a political party--the "people's party." 

typically, political parties aren't used for anything more than retaining power and the people's party may have suffered the same fate eventually.  but before that even had a chance to happen, they got co-opted into a "fusion" campaign backing democrat wm. jennings bryan , in 1896.  bryan got clobbered by mckinley (one of the several really crappy presidents from ohio) in the historic "front porch campaign" which he was able to wage because his operative, mark hanna, was busy tithing corporate heads to fund the first really organized, national political p.r. campaign and swamped bryan, destroying the people's party in the process. 

i don't want to venture too far into populist history and leave that to the real experts like lawrence goodwyn.  suffice to say that today's movement is hell of a lot of organizing away from having to worry about the dangers of becoming a political party. 

so that's my two cents (more like 12, i guess) on how to help frame a discussion on the problems of militarism.


How militarism enters in the US

When I was a kid, the playground at my grade school had a very elementary “monkey bars” on it. It consisted of three ladderlike shapes, two vertical and on horizontal affixed to the top of the upright ladders. You climbed up, crawled along the top; or you hung from the horizontal ladder, progressing rung by run across it as long as your strength held out.

But, it was the early Fifties, and nobody played on the monkey bars like that. Instead we held on to the horizontal ladder and faced another kid, doing the same thing. The object was to rope your legs around your opponent and pull him or her off the bars before you could no longer hang there yourself.

We called that game “dog fights.” Every day in the news we heard reports of American F-86 yet planes fighting in the skies over Korea with North Korean or Chinese MIG-15s (some actually flown by Soviet pilots, we learned later.) Our dog fights on the monkey bars were recreations of the aerial battles of the Korean War.

As I recall, there was some danger involved even in our monkey bar dogfights. You could get pulled off and land on your feet. That, except for the shame involved, was an acceptable outcome. But you could also land on your butt, and in my particular inept way, I once managed to land on my forehead, leaving me with a scar that persisted throughout elementary school.

The injuries were not really a big deal, but succumbing to the fear of injury or defeat, was a very big thing. You couldn’t back away from these contests, particularly if you were a boy. So, as early as seven or eight years old, we boys were learning that being male meant unflinchingly entering into war games, here a game that was in everybody’s mind connected to an ongoing war.

And so it has always been for boys in this American culture. When you imagine courage, when you imagine fortitude, when you imagine competence, when you imagine strength, you are taught by this culture to measure their presence by your readiness to be an effective fighter. (Unfortunately, the suggerstion is now that this is true for girls as well.) Being unwilling or unable to participate in war means not only that you are not patriotic, but something even worse – you’re not male. Your gender identity and, for that matter, your sexual identity, is under suspicion.

The first thing you heard on those fifties playgrounds when you wouldn’t take up the challenge was “Sissy.” 

Lasting Effects

Professor Salzberger,

Your story is fascinating and absolutely true. I grew up in a completely different generation (the 90's) and I recall that game being played on our playground as well. The main difference was that it wasn't outwardly war-related. My generation had forgotton where the game had come from and what the real point was. I find that fact to be a bit of a concern because the violence in the game was no less pervasive and "chicken" and "sissy" were still very commonly used. Youth are promoting this warlike violent behavior without even realizing it themselves at all.

I fully agree that gender identity plays a huge part in why young boys and men are so compelled to join the military. I'm curious to know if there have been efforts among any of the practitioners here to counteract militarism in our youth from this angle of gender identity. Are there any success stories? If not, what's the biggest hurdle?

I think it's one thing to educate the young men of the fact that gender roles are simply social constructs and not requirements, and another thing entirely to convince them that it is okay to turn away from these roles when they risk their credibility among peers and even close friends. What other things could be done to help them rise above the roles assigned them? Is there a more effective way to educate them or is it necessary to use another tactic entirely?



Conflict Resolution Class

Professor Salzberger and

Professor Salzberger and Chelsea,

I completely agree that gender identity and the presure around comforming to gender roles in our society are huge reasons as to why young  adults take on this militaristic lifestyle, whether it be in regards to participating in the military or simply basing their existence on violent and war-like rhetoric and ideas. The fact that such ideals are ingrained from playground times on up is not only unsettling but crazy to think about.

I'm curious to know responses to Chelsea's questions regarding gender identity and any means tried in attempt to dispell the pressure around conforming to such roles. Along those same lines of educating youth, especially young men, about gender identity and the fact that gender is socially constructed, have there been any focus on or maybe even tactics tried simply regarding the violent and militaristic rhetoric and practices children use beginning at such a young age?  

I work in early childhood development and am a dedicated advocate for positive expression. I believe in the power of children understanding what it is to reponds rather than to react, and how to fully engage their true feelings about a situation, as well as their personal passion, to build a constructive and life-affirming dialogue and, on a more personal level, idea of what self-expression is.

I know it may seem sort of obscure, but i believe how we are taught to respond to life as children truly impacts how we continue to do so through out life.

Have there been any movements in their area? Perhaps nonviolent workshops for youth? I am curious.



UST Conflict Resolution student

German-Zambian Cooperation

The organization German-Zambian Cooperation addresses many of the root issues of militarism in youth.  Their website at http://www.jugenti.de/downloads/projekt_zambia.pdf outlines many of their goals and tactics used to prevent militarism and in general promote development of youth in the country of Zambia.  The tactic involves putting on a volunteer work camp, in which youth are invited to participate in a community building project which focuses on a key educational theme.  From their experience in the work camp, participants are better positioned to participate in political, economic, and social structures.  The communities which host the projects also receive benefits from this program.  I invite you to learn more about this organization and their use of volunteer work camps by visiting their website.  The site also includes a database of many other organizations who are using this same idea across the world.

To link this to many who have touched on this over the past week, it seems that militarism rises in many areas as a result of poverty, discrimination, and those who perceive there to be no other options.  Many organizations like German-Zambian Cooperation can indirectly influence militarism by addressing these root causes of it.  If social inequalities are addressed, it appears there is a corollary of reducing youth participation in militarism and violence.

Does anybody know of an organization who ties together the two ideas of development and anti-militarism?  What tactics have been used to address both these issues at the same time?  What other issues have anti-militarism organizations attempted to address along with their non-violent alternatives to militarism platform?

Secondly, it seems militarism can be decreased by an increase in the feelings of community in youth.  As participants have discussed before with the sports and hip-hop campaigns to combat militarism, giving youth a community to develop in in non-violent ways can be just as effective as organzations which seek a violent community. 

How do the organizations which you participate in seek to develop this feeling of community, and is it a primary focus of your tactic?  What relationship does your community have with other organizations working towards the same mission, and in turn what relationship with those who are working for an increase in militarization?  In your experience, how do differing organizations surrounding the same issue interact with one another?

Finally, I am curious to ask practicioners what the greatest challenge they faced in implementing their tactic was.  What was your biggest asset in overcoming that challenge?  Is there something you have learned from looking back on your tactic that if changed could improve it? Is there an idea in this New Tactics dialogue which could improve your tactic?

Sorry for all the questions; hope this allows many people to answer and give some more information about their organization. Thanks!


Time for reflection

Something I don’t think has been specifically addressed yet (although I may have missed it) is intentional reflection of all of these great tactics that have been discussed so far. I am guessing that time for reflection may be important to the work and lives of many, if not all, of the practitioners, activists, and the like present in this dialogue.

I am wondering how you structure time for reflection/assessment of your actions/tactics. Do you find it necessary to structure such time, or does it happen naturally? I suppose these are very general questions in considering the the topic of the dialogue. Connecting it somewhat more specifically to the dialogue: how do you encourage youth to reflect/assess on their own actions throughout their challenges and work to counter militarism?

Thank you! I have enjoyed the opportunity for so much fruitful reflection as I read and learn from your own experiences!

Challanges and impact of Sports for peace project

 Swat Youth Front devised a tentative work plan for distribution of Sport goods under Sport for peace project but the organization also faced  some  problems  due  to  uncertain  situation  in  the  area  and continuous  curfews  in  the  most  sensitive  areas  of  the  district.  

To ensure safety and security, SYF opened a post box address at general post  office saidu sharif for the receipt of the distribution forms.  The   distribution   forms   were   distributed   through   grass   roots organization,  SYF’s  volunteers  and  among  sports  teams  at  play grounds to avoid any danger.  After the first distribution ceremony on 3rd    January, 2009, Mullana Shah Dawran, local Taliban leader, condemns Cricket Games on his FM Speech. This was intending a great danger for the organization to arrange further distribution ceremonies with security and confidence.  SYF’s staff and volunteers bear many hurdles and travels on hilly path to avoid Taliban on the normal routine road to District Shangla. The  staff  and  volunteers  have  to  cover  one  sided  journey  from District Swat to District Shangla in two days.   Chilly winter, Snow, raining and strange routes were the main hurdles faced by the staff. The staff and volunteers faced several problems during distributionceremonies at Bahrain and Kalam. As the main road from Mingora to Kalam was  closed due to suicide attacks on the security forces and continuous curfews. Moreover, the area being the strong hold of the Taliban  was  also  a  stumbling   block  in  the  execution  of  the distribution ceremony. The staff and the volunteers have to follow an alternative and dangerous route, both by feet and  by vehicles, to reach the destinations.  Even, at Matta Area, the most sensitive area and hub of the Taliban,the staff  and  volunteers  have  a  narrow  escape  as  a  severe  clash between the  security forces and the Taliban started. The staff and volunteers have to take shelter in one of the market for at least 3 and4 hours.   During the Distribution ceremony at Bahrain, some of the Taliban enquired about the ceremony but the situation was handled smoothly and at time due to the intervention of the local leaders.   In addition to this, continuous curfew and uncertain situation in the area was a  stumbling block in the transportation of the staff. The staff has to cover the area from Kalam to Mingora in five days. As travelling on the road was not  allowed so the staff has to follow mountain tracks to reach Mingora.



Under the  signed  MOU  it  was  mandatory  for  the  teams  to  ensure providing of photos of the sport activities in which the gifted goods are used and  also ensure to be the part of sport for peace network. To utilized Sports as an  effective tool and a strong unifying factor in the process  of  conflict  transformation,  peace  building  and  development,restoration of interaction and communication and emotional and social rehabilitation  of  traumatized  community,  SYF  organized  cricket  and volley ball  tournaments among the member teams of Sports for Peace Network


Participating in  sport  and  physical  activity  can  lead  to  a  number  ofpositive health benefits in any situation for people of all ages and abilities. Sport has a crucial role in the optimal growth, learning and developmentof children from infancy through adolescence, and continues people as they get older. In complex emergency / man made disasters sport for peace project was a useful and valuable tool for building resilience and helping people affected by  disaster to overcome trauma. It provided a safe, structured and friendly environment  for people to begin to share their emotions through verbal and non verbal  communication. The emphasis was on building  social  cohesion  and  to  encourage   community  member  to interact and communicate with each other. Sport activities  allow brief period of relaxation, focus attention away from the experience of the loss and provide an opportunity to reinforce educational and safety messages along with welcome respite for parents and caregivers. Psychosocial aspect  of  the  sports  for  peace  project   do  not  have  a primary focus on competition and wining but rather an emphasis on the cultivation of a cooperative and supportive environment.The culture of cooperation contributed significantly to the restoration of psychosocial   and  social  functioning,  especially  after  the  trauma  of disasters  has  caused  upheaval.  People  benefited  from  having  regular contact with providers of physical activity who provide trust worthy and reliable role models which is an important  aspect of building resilience and overcoming trauma


 Revival of  Sports  activities  provide  a  forum  to  learn  skills  such  as discipline, confidence and leadership and it teaches core principles such as tolerance, co-operation and respect. Sport teaches the values of effort and how to manage victory as well as defeat.

Generate Dialogue:

Sports for peace roject help to promote social integration and foster tolerance,  helping to reduce tension and generate dialogue. Establish a sense of structure and”normalcy” in Youth’s lives, which is particularly important for children affected by armed conflict and displacement

Sports for Peace project harness the power of sport and play to teach important  life  skills  and  values  that  can  contribute  toward  building vibrant    and      peaceful communities.   Participants     learn               how   to communicate, work in teams and set goals. The project helps youthcultivate an ability to resolve conflicts peacefully through increased self- esteem and confidence in their own abilities, as well as motivation and courage to be positive  agents of change. Regular activities also reduce stress, anxiety and depression, provide respite from conflict and stressful situations, and help children affected by conflict and war regain a sense of normalcy. Feedback from evaluations conducted in various  areas of District  Swat  showcase  how  Sports for  peace  project  is  contributing toward decreased violence and conflict in the community and an increase in ability to resolve conflict cooperatively.


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