"Youth Do All Such Things to Survive Here”

Dialogues with -- 
"Youth Do All Such Things to Survive Here”: A Qualitative Study of Challenges Facing War-Affected Youth in Sierra Leone

Comments by
Mariko Siegert
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Thank you, Dr. Efevbera and Dr. Betancourt, for this amazing work. I agree with your statement that it is important to conduct research and understand phenomena through the understanding of the people(s) who have experienced them. I think it is critical that researchers pay particular attention to the specific context of the phenomenon. 

I have two questions for you regarding the limitations of this research and possible remedies that may exist. First, it reads that the "authors chose not to disaggregate caregivers from youth" (p. 259) for the 2010 sample, which I think was appropriate. Some youth may also be caregivers, and setting a specific age threshold to determine the participants' social roles may not only be difficult but also problematic. I think, however, the role of the participants' perceived social role would be an important indicator to study the post-conflict challenges that individuals are facing. Could it have been possible to purposively recruit individuals in Freetown that were not youth (e.g., those in their 40s and above) and those who were under the age of 18 (or 15, etc.--an average age that is considered the beginning of adulthood in the community) who do not identify themselves as caregivers? What might some of the problems be with this sampling approach?

Second, you discussed that the level of war-/trauma-exposure was not considered while sampling. How could this have been measured, in other words, with which instruments? I wonder how culturally appropriate established psychometrics and instruments developed in the U.S. or the West might be. Do you think you would have developed a set of original, culturally appropriate tests if you had been able to measure them for this study? Also, how would you have defined and interpreted the different levels of war-/trauma-expousre (e.g., low, middle, high, or with scoring)?

I am a first-year Ph.D student and various challenges you discussed as limitations of this research were very thought-provoking. I also learned a little about the FL, which was one of the many takeaways from your research. Thank you so much.

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