Childrearing Practices

Dimension 12 of 17


We wanted to learn about childrearing practices in Syria. We listened to a wide range of local, regional, and international actors influential in the life of Syria. We received a wide range of responses, for example: 

“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)
“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)

“In the regime controlled areas it is a level 2 [child labor and abandonment]. The IS controlled areas are level 4 [strict discipline]. The education they give is to make the children worse rather than better. The PYD controlled areas are at level 5 [influence]. The Free Syrian Army areas are at level 6 [helping children to create their own lives]. 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)

“Especially girls.” (233531)

“There is severe discipline too.” (235781)

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

Is the killing of children tolerated in Syria? Or do Syrian parents encourage their children's choices for their own lives, including career and marriage, and the killing of children is a side-effect of the conflict? Why does this matter in your choice of partners, the design of initiatives, and the implementation of those initiatives? Read more to find out. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more statements. 


INCA DIMENSION #12:

SYRIA'S CHILDREARING PRACTICES


Top 12.png

Syria's Childrearing Practices are the 12th of 17 dimensions of Syrian society that influential local, regional, and international actors assessed and discussed through 3 rounds of interviews and feedback, beginning in January, 2016. Taken together, the 17 dimensions of the x-axis offer a comprehensive, holistic view of Syria and its people. Interview participants assessed the capacity of each dimension, represented by the y-axis; higher levels indicate greater capacity within that dimension for Syrians to respond effectively to existential global threats.

Childrearing practices are important as a dimension because it reveals the capacity of the next generation of Syrians to grow into their full potential as human beings, and cooperate to build a stronger, more developed Syria. Based on the 8-level hierarchy described in the question below, participants from 27 influential organizations assessed the Syrian childrearing practices at different levels at this time in history, ranging from 1 to 6. (At the bottom of this page, you can read statements interview participants gave to support their assessments.)


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.)

1.    Killing of infants or children.

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

3.    Sexual behavior with minors, or beating.

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

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

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

7.    There is universal, high quality care for all pregnant women, and for all infants, in the country, who are citizens.

8.    There is universal, high quality care for all pregnant women, and for all infants, in the country, including those who are non-citizen residents or visitors.


READ CLOSELY, IMAGINE, LEARN

Read each statement below closely. Assume the person who wrote this is sincere; they believe every word. Imagine what life experience or background might lead a person to have this belief. Whether true or false, this person’s perception is a fact. To move forward on an initiative involving Syrian children, the reality of each perspective might best need to be accounted for.

This Prime Actor participant sees Syrian childrearing practices as centered at Level 1, in which the killing of children is tolerated:

“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)

This Prime Actor participant sees Syrian childrearing practices as centered at Level 6, in which parents encourage their children's choices for their own lives, including career and marriage.:

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

When you can imagine how other Prime Actors could hold these perceptions, you will be better positioned to partner, plan, and implement initiatives in Syria.


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WORK WITHIN SYRIA’S CHILDREARING PRACTICES

The thick brown line represents the killing of infants and children

The thick brown line represents the most conservative assessment of Syria’s childrearing practices, in which the killing of infants and children is tolerated. Any organization operating in Syria or with refugee Syrians would be best served by not presuming the desire or ability of communities to protect infants or children. 


STRENGTHENING SYRIA'S CHILDREARING PRACTICES ONE STEP AT A TIME

Aim just right: protect children

The green area of the chart, from levels 1 to 2, indicates which projects to strengthen Syrian's childrearing practices will be most likely to succeed: those that protect children and infants from murder. World Vision has several programs focused on keeping Syrian children alive. 

If you aim too high: destructive overreach

Projects and agreements in the red area of the chart are overly ambitious and, at best, will be a waste of time. More likely, they will drive confusion and corruption into the country. An example is of initiatives intended to prevent employers from making use of child labor (level 3). If implemented in Syria, this attempted leap from a society in which children infants are regularly killed (level 1) to one that stigmatizes child labor (level 3) would be too much to do at once! Efforts to prohibit child labor would be misguided without having first convinced parents that the killing of children and infants is unacceptable, even if the best way of doing so is to emphasize children’s economic value (level 2). 

Background Reading

For more information on INCA for Iraq, read our retroactive case study here: http://sovereigntyfirst.com/iraq/report


Round 3 Statements (Nov 2016 - Jul 2017)

Note: These statements were given by participants as rationale for their decision to gauge Syrian capacity at their stated level. 

The Range

Lowest Score:1

Highest Score: 6

1. Killing of children

“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)

2. Abandoning children or child labor

“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)

3. Sexual behavior with minors or beating. (Answer for the one that is more tolerated.)

No Statements

4. Consistent, severe discipline of children

“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)

5. Parents or family impose goals on the child, such as career, or forced marriage.

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

6. Parents are expected to encourage their children's choices for their own careers

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


Round 2 Statements (Aug 2016 - Oct 2016)

Note: These statements were given by participants as rationale for their decision to gauge Syrian capacity at their stated level. 

The Range 

Lowest Score: 1

Highest Score: 6

1. Killing of children.

"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)

2. Abandoning children, or child labor. (Answer for the one that is more tolerated.)

"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)

3.Sexual behavior with minors or beatings. (Answer for the one that is more tolerated.)

No Statement

4. Consistent, severe discipline of children.

No Statement

5. Parents or family impose goals on the child, such as career, or forced marriage.

No Statement

6. Parents are expected to encourage their children's choices for their own careers.

"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)


Round 1 Statements (Jan 2016 - May 2016)

Note: These statements were given by participants as rationale for their decision to gauge Syrian capacity at the level they did for this dimension. 

The Range

Lowest Score: 2

Highest Score: 6

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

No Statements

3. Sexual behavior with minors, or beating.

 "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)

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

No Statements

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

No Statements

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

No Statements