The international community recognizes that young people are increasingly vulnerable to psychosocial trauma within in intergroup conflict. Exposure to traumatic stressors within these conflicts poses unique risks not only to the neurological and social development of youth, but also to their capacities to fully engage in peacebuilding interventions. With a growing focus on youth programming in peacebuilding strategies, there is greater imperative to explore the intersections of trauma and peacebuilding, which are naturally linked in their focus on intra- and inter-personal transformation. This intersection has largely been overlooked in the literature, though it deserves far greater attention based on the growing knowledge of the psychological sequela of youth in intergroup conflict. Through a qualitative evaluation of practitioner reflections, this study explores how practitioners conceptualize and approach issues of traumatic stress in youth peacebuilding programs focused on youth in intergroup conflict. The aim is to identify the working assumptions related to trauma undergirding peacebuilding practice and determine how to revisit these assumptions to account for the traumatic dimensions of intractable identity-based violence. The study's findings offer practical steps forward to enhance trauma-sensitive peacebuilding practice.

Author Bio(s)

Liza Hester is a recent graduate of the M.A. Conflict Resolution Program at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies of the University of Denver. She now works with the One Earth Future Foundation in Broomfield, Colorado.


peacebuilding, trauma, youth, intergroup conflict

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