Chapter

Growing Up During the Balkan Wars of the 1990s

Sarah Warshauer Freedman and Dino Abazovic

in International Perspectives on Youth Conflict and Development

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780195178425
Published online April 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199958528 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195178425.003.0004
Growing Up During the Balkan Wars of the 1990s

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The youth today in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Croatia have grown up during times of war and chronic unrest. Since the youth will determine the future of the countries in the still-unstable Balkan region, it is critical to understand how their experiences of past wars and current, ongoing violence might relate to the role they will play in the reconstruction of their society. This chapter focuses on what was learned about youth and violence from a study of young people aged 14 to 16 enrolled in secondary schools in the still deeply divided towns of Mostar in BiH and Vukovar in Croatia. The chapter shows that many young people in Mostar and Vukovar suffer from a general sense of depression and apathy. These symptoms may not always be clinically significant, and the same youth simultaneously show some resilience, yet their malaise permeates the culture. It also shows that regardless of their national affiliation or where they live, the youth feel abandoned by the adults who are responsible for them, both parents and teachers. Finally, for the most part, the youth do not know how to heal or how to think about a positive future. They are conflicted about whether it would be best to focus on trying to forget the past or on trying to remember it, and also about whether they will ever be able to forgive others for what happened.

Keywords: Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; youth; conflict; violence; depression; apathy

Chapter.  8050 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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