Syrian Economic and Cultural Capacity:
Childrearing Practices

A Phase IV assessment


In the chart below, 8 dimensions of Syria’s economic and cultural capacity are shown, from left (“Economy”) to right (“Religion”). Taken together, the 8 dimensions of the x-axis offer a comprehensive, holistic view of Syria’s capacity to govern itself.  

Childrearing Practices are important because they reveal the capacity of the population for empathy, impulse control, rational thought, and moral sense. The stronger these abilities in the Syrian population, the greater the capacity of the country to cooperate to respond to existential threats.


The Question

Predicting the behavior of other people requires empathy (the ability to imagine what another person is thinking, feeling, or intending). The capacity for empathy is primarily developed through the parenting of children. The country tolerates—which is to say, for the most part, it has not put an end to the following practices, or the following social norms are accepted? (If two seem equal, name the lower level.)

The Levels

6.    Parents encourage their children's choices for their own lives, including career and marriage. (This was the highest level chosen.) 

5.    Parents set goals for their children, and allow their children choice in how to attain the goals; possibly arranged marriage.

4.    Parent's control their children's behaviors; possibly forced marriage at the age or 14 or older. 
       (3.1 was the average of the levels chosen.)
3.    Sexual behavior with minors, or beating.

2.    Abandonment of children, child labor, or forced marriage before the age of 14.

1.    Killing of infants or children. (This was the lowest level chosen and the level most often chosen.) 


25 prime actors participated in determining the ability of Syria to respond to existential threats based on its current childrearing practices. 

In the chart, higher levels indicate greater capacity within that dimension for Syrians to respond effectively to existential global threats, from Level 1 (very weak) to 8 (very strong).

  • The highest rating: light green. 
  • The average rating: a triangle.  
  • The level identified most often: a cross. 
  • The lowest rating: dark green
Syria R3 INCA CP 180308ew.jpg

Level 6: Participants made the following statements to support their assessment of the Syrian Economy as best characterized as Level 6:

Parents encourage their children's choices for their own lives, including career and marriage.

A Round 3 participant stated (Nov 2016 - Jul 2017):

“People are supporting their children in case there is a chance they will have a good life by leaving the country.” (235931)

A Round 2 participant stated (Aug 2016 - Oct 2016):

"Sexual Abuse of children is much higher in the United States than in Syria. It's rare." (221211)
"Most Syrian fathers want their children to be like him, or what he wants for them. (223881)

Level 5: Participants made the following statements to support their assessment of the Syrian Economy as best characterized as Level 5:

Parents set goals for their children, and allow their children choice in how to attain the goals; possibly arranged marriage.

Round 3 participants stated (Nov 2016 - Jul 2017):

“Especially girls.” (233531)
“There is severe discipline too.” (235781)

Level 4: Participants made the following statements to support their assessment of the Syrian Economy as best characterized as Level 4:

Parent's control their children's behaviors; possibly forced marriage at the age or 14 or older. 

Round 3 participants stated (Nov 2016 - Jul 2017):

“Lower levels happen in a widespread way, but 4 is the most consistent level.” (236592)
“With children, it depends. In some more affluent areas in resort communities on the Mediterranean it can be like Beirut or even Tel Aviv. In other parts, it can be much more harsh. There is some sexual behavior with minors, especially little boys.” (239311)

Level 3: Participants made the following statements to support their assessment of the Syrian Economy as best characterized as Level 3:

Sexual behavior with minors, or beating.. 

A Round 1 participants stated (Jan 2016 - May 2017):

"Child labor, child soldiers, sexual abuse, and violence in general is okay. They make a boy a man. Violent groups like to bring in children because they can be brainwashed." (215261)

Level 2: Participants made the following statements to support their assessment of the Syrian Economy as best characterized as Level 2:

Abandonment of children, child labor, or forced marriage before the age of 14.

Round 3 participants stated (Jan 2016 - May 2017):

“In the regime controlled areas it is a level 2. The IS controlled areas are level 4. The education they give is to make the children worse rather than better. The PYD controlled areas are at level 5. The Free Syrian Army areas are at level 6. The Free Syrian Army doesn't interfere with children. They leave it to families. They do get killed by bombs. There are less children in Syria every day.” (230784)
“The child labor part is true. The economic situation forces parents to make their children earn money.” (230713)
“The most marginalized groups in Syria now are children and women. When Hafez Al Assad came to power he established a scout program (ages 6 - 12). Then they started with youth (ages 12 - 18), then brought them into the Baath Party. It was a brainwashing tactic.” (231641)
“Children often have to provide for families. They are abused, often abandoned in the country and in refugee camps as prostitutes in Jordan and Lebanon.” (222272)
“The refugees are trying to educate their children, but in Syria they are abandoned and forced to work. Often there are no schools. Children are abandoned because their families are killed. This resulted in child trafficking for labor.” (232631)

Round 2 participants stated (Aug 2016 - Oct 2016):

"Nobody wants to go to school. There is no education. Minors are used for janitorial work. Many families give their children away for work, sex, or as soldiers." (223881)
"This is becoming a huge problem across the country. There are more and more child soldiers on both sides. Checkpoints can be manned by 14-year olds. Child labor is common practice. A lot of the men are dead, fighting, or in prison. The children take on the bread-winning role. It's tolerated by everyone." (223911)
"Children are largely neglected, but it's the overall situation. Before the war it was a relatively modern society. (222272)

Level 1: Participants made the following statements to support their assessment of the Syrian Economy as best characterized as Level 1:

Killing of infants or children.

Round 3 participants stated (Jan 2016 - May 2017):

“It's the only way to explain why the government targets incubators in air raids. The Opposition has attacked schools. IS recruits children.” (233911)
“A lot of children are being killed in the conflict or in immigration attempts. Some are used as child soldiers.” (238631)
"It depends on the area of the country, but people would report a higher level than what actual practices show. They may admit to [level] 5 [parents or family impose goals on the child, such as career, or choice of marriage partner], but function at [level] 1 [the killing of children is tolerated].” (233121)
“Everyone wants to protect children, yet schools and children's hospitals are targeted for bombing.” (234281)
“1 - 4 are common in Syria now.” (233081)
“Children are being killed in every part of Syria. The Islamic State crucifies children for not observing Ramadan. The government has taken children and tortured them from the beginning. A lot of refugees calculate that their children might die on the journey, but they would definitely die at home.” (239312)

Round 2 participants stated (Aug 2016 - Oct 2016):

"Genocide doesn't discriminate between children and adults. Even in the camps parents force their children to do all these things." (220291)
"It's the regime that kills children of all ages. Bombing, firearms, . . . most of the dead are women and children." (225662)
"A lot of children have been killed in the bombings. A lot have been killed in displacement…. There are thousands more no one talks about." (228631)