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SAGE Publications

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Journal of Adolescent Research

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DOI: 10.1177/0743558417722519


During adolescence, individuals begin to form ideas about human rights as part of the development of a sense of self. The outcomes of these processes are influential in the stability and peace in postconflict societies. However, there remain many questions about how these youth construct ideas about human rights and how they become oriented toward promoting these in society through a developed human rights consciousness. This study investigates how adolescents in an underexplored area of postconflict societies—where past violence was not intimately experienced—understand human rights. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 25 fifteen-year-olds across five schools in Tacna, Peru. These adolescents understand human rights as related to respect, protection, and needing personal advocacy, but they do not integrate ideas about human rights into concrete practice—the foundation of human rights consciousness. While the majority of respondents assert that human rights must be understood and enacted in order to become reality, they do not connect these ideas to concrete issues in Peruvian society. This gap may have emerged from postconflict political developments in the Peruvian education system. For a group of female respondents, human rights are about identity, which may demonstrate the ways that local gender contexts and developmentally salient concerns shape these understandings. These findings could provide important empirical support for policies and programs fostering human rights consciousness in postconflict youth.


Accepted version. Journal of Adolescent Research, Vol. 34, No. 4 (July 2019): 483-463. DOI. © 2019 SAGE Publications. Used with permission.

Gabriel M. Velez was affiliated with University of Chicago at the time of publication.

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