Layla Saleh


This article explores the participation of children in the Syrian uprising against Bashar al-Assad. The involvement of children in democratic social movements and regime transitions has not been addressed in the literature, although some works describe the role children can play in making public policy or in the humanitarian domain. I argue that just as the role of women and of university-aged youth was gradually incorporated in the body of research on the social movements and regime transitions, so should the role of children be studied. I then characterize the role of children in the Syrian uprising as a three-stage cycle, whereby children unwittingly sparked the revolution, then were targeted by the regime in response, and finally, have been, along with adults across the country, spurred to further anti-Assad action, rather than silence and submission, as a result of the regime’s brutality. Providing empirical evidence to illustrate how this cycle plays out in Syria, I suggest that additional research is needed to further examine and theorize about the role of children in social movements and regime transitions.

Author Biography

Layla Saleh is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of International Affairs at Qatar University. Her research focuses the Syrian uprising, the politics of the MENA region, and U.S. foreign policy.