The deadly conflicts experienced by the Democratic Republic of Congo at the end of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first centuries caused numerous negative consequences resulting in the severe social crisis in the country. The Second Congo War that started in 1998 has become one of the most dreadful armed conflicts of the second half of the twentieth century (McMullen, O’Callaghan, Shannon, Black, & Eakin, 2013).
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Recruitment of child soldiers is one of the practices often used by official and nonofficial armed forces in the country. Such practice presents a serious threat to the life and psychological health of children as the experience gained in the army leaves irreversible changes in their social attitudes and psyche.
Finding an effective solution to the problem of child soldiers in Congo is necessary for ensuring the healthy environment for the population of the country. Though numerous actions were taken to demobilize the child soldiers after the official end of the war, a certain number of children is still recruited by military groups. The process of demobilization of child soldiers is complicated by the fact that many children do not find support in the society and do not consider themselves a part of it.
Investigating the social and ethnic background of former child soldiers can contribute to the success of prevention of future recruitment. The aim of this paper is to answer the questions related to the social and ethnic identity of demobilized child soldiers. The research is aimed at checking if the hypothesis that most soldiers come from the same social and ethnic group is true to life.
Confirming or refuting the hypothesis are of vital importance, as the identification of a certain group of children most vulnerable to being recruited by the army will help to prevent further recruitment by encouraging proper institutions to focus on providing appropriate preventive activities for this group.
The Overview of the Research Design
As the purpose of the study is to answer the questions about the background of the child soldiers in Congo, descriptive research design seems to be the most appropriate one. A good description is “fundamental to the research enterprise” as it contributes to the knowledge of the nature of the society (What is research design?, n.d., p. 1).
The specifics of descriptive research fit the purpose of the study, as such research helps to obtain the information that is crucial for devising hypotheses and proposing associations (Monsen & Van Horn, 2008). As description “paves the way to prediction”, the chosen research design will help to predict the association between the social and ethnic background of children and their inclination to participate in the Army (Mitchell & Jolley, 2013, p. 272).
Quantitative research, as a type of descriptive studies, appears to be suitable for the study, as it will help to collect data about the issues discussed above and organize it into valuable descriptive statistics (Monsen & Van Horn, 2008, p. 5). The choice of data collection and analysis methods should correspond to the chosen research design.
The Data Collection Methods
Gathering data about the social and ethnic background of former child soldiers in Congo can be done by using survey methods. As the researcher is learning French, which is the first language in Congo, it will be relatively easy to use such method of data collection as focus group interviews.
Focus groups will include family members of demobilized child soldiers and the members of civil society. Each of the group will consist of 5-9 people (Kwok-to Choi & Chan, 2013). Such survey data collection technique as constructing necessary questionnaire will be used to create an appropriate basis for the interviews. Each group will be requested to answer a certain number of questions during an-hour-long sessions. The participants will be asked to share their views on the discussed issue, and the appropriate records will be made.
Monitoring of narratives of demobilized children in Congo will also be used as an additional method of obtaining data for the study. The narratives will be selected based on careful analysis to identify certain features related to social and ethnic background common among child soldiers.
The collected data will be analyzed by reviewing the answers of the participants and identifying if they reflect common social and ethnic patterns typical of child soldiers in Congo. The detailed statistical analysis of obtained information will be conducted to demonstrate if certain social and ethnic groups prevail among former child soldiers.
Descriptive statistics analysis will suit the purpose of the study and help the researcher to find the association between the investigated factors and the willingness to participate in the army. Descriptive statistics will help to describe the basic features of the data obtained during the study and provide summaries about the sample (Trochim, 2006).
Such statistics will enable the researcher to describe what the data shows. Two variables, social background and ethnic origin of former child soldiers, will be analyzed. As it is rather difficult to calculate the statistics when there two or more variables, appropriate statistics program should be used. The data will be put to Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) program to get the appropriate table of results.
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A Sampling Scheme
A random sample will be used to ensure that the results can predict the features common to the whole population. A sample frame will be defined to determine a complete list of the population from which the sample should be selected. The creation of sample frame database will enable the researcher to conduct random number selection.
The necessary information about the families of former child soldiers will be attained from appropriate institutions, and ten families from different parts of the country will be chosen based on the method of probability sampling. Ten groups of the members of civil society living in various regions of the country will also be chosen randomly.
Such method of sampling will help to prevent inaccuracy and ensure that the identified patterns refer to all child soldiers. The written narratives for analysis will also be selected randomly from the database of appropriate institutions located in different regions of Congo. The total number of chosen narratives will be twenty.
The assessment of the selected sample will be conducted to eliminate the risk of missing certain groups of population and getting subjective results. Sample validation will be carried out to ensure that the selected participants truly represent the whole population.
Strengths and Weaknesses of the Research Design
The main strengths of the research design include its suitability to the purpose of the study. The chosen research design enables the researcher to answer the initial research questions and check the hypothesis.
Besides, such research design enables the researcher to ensure that the data obtained during it is objective, and the results can be applied to the whole population. The objectivity of the results is of vital importance, as it lets the researcher make well-grounded claims and encourage further research based on already gained relevant information on the issue.
Usage of group based interviews will help to monitor a big number of the people living in Congo in a relatively short period. On the other side, the absence of individualistic approach in group interviews can be defined as a weakness of the research design. However, careful and friendly communication with the individuals included in the groups will help to eliminate the risks related to lack of individualistic features of the survey.
Descriptive statistics analysis will help to analyze the collected data and draw certain conclusions. The researcher will be able to find the correlation between certain social and ethnic groups and the level of children’s participation in military groups. The usage of SPSS software will help to prevent any possibility of making mistakes while calculating the statistics.
Usage of random sampling gives numerous benefits to the research, as it helps to ensure that the results are appropriate for being considered typical for the whole population of Congo. Though such sampling requires more time and effort, careful communication with appropriate institutions will help to overcome these challenges.
The chosen research design has numerous benefits and will enable the researcher to answer vital questions about the nature of the phenomenon of child soldiers in Congo. The gained results will help other specialists to suggest the appropriate strategy for combating children’s involvement in military organizations in Congo.
Kwok-to Choi, M., & Chan, K. (2013). Online dating as a strategic game: Why and how men in Hong Kong use QQ to chase women in mainland China. Berlin: Springer Heidelberg.
McMullen, J., O’Callaghan, P., Shannon, C., Black, A., & Eakin, J. (2013). Group trauma-focused cognitive-behavioural therapy with former child soldiers and other war-affected boys in the DR Congo: A randomised controlled trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 54(11), 1231-1241.
Mitchell, M., & Jolley, J. (2013). Research design: Explained (8th ed.). Belmont, California: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Monsen, E., & Van Horn, L. (2008). Research: Successful approaches (3rd ed.). New York: American Dietetic Association.
Trochim, W. (2006). Descriptive Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/statdesc.php
What is a research design? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nyu.edu/classes/bkg/methods/005847ch1.pdf