Child Soldiers

Published: 2021-07-02 04:46:19
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Category: Military, Soldier

Type of paper: Essay

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Until recent years, Children have never been used in battles. They have never been forced to participate and be the front-liners in wars.  Although most cultures had trained and prepared children to fight in battles, these children were only given menial tasks when the situation arises such as running ammunition to canon crews. They were never considered true combatants and legitimate targets by the enemies.

“As the nature of armed conflict has changed in recent years, the practice of using children--defined under international law as those under age 18—as soldiers has become far more common and widespread” (Singer, 2007). Because this condition continued to spread, the United Nations had made this a serious concern for all countries.

“A ‘universal consensus’ appears to be growing against the use of children in hostilities, with more than three-quarters of U.N. member states having now signed, ratified or acceded to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict” (Xanthaki, 2008). The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers had published its third global report about this persistent problem and concluded that although there is a growing awareness of the situation, there has been little improvement in alleviating this predicament.
The first used of children in hostilities may be dated as far back as the year 1212. Thousands of unarmed boys from Northern France and Western Germany marched and thought that they can take back the holy land by only the powers of faith (Singer, 2007). From unarmed crusades, the condition of using children in wars grew in severity until children are used as front-liners in battles. They were instructed how to use ammunitions and taught how to become suicide bombers and smugglers of explosives and weapons.
The use of children in armed conflicts may directly be the effects of socio-economic disruption caused by globalization and the changes in weapon technology. Although globalization had made the society improve its quality of life, it had also created great social instability. Those who were left behind by globalization found themselves lost in the society. Multiply civil and sectarian conflicts weakened and undermined the societal structures. Orphans and refugee children grew in number. This social group proved to be of greater risk in being pulled into war.
Armed groups lure children, especially orphans and refugee children, to join their groups by offering them food, security and shelter. They provide them with identity, empowerment through possession of fire arms and the power to make other people fear them. These offers appear to be appealing to these orphans.
“Very often children are lured into these groups because they romanticize their missions” (Xanthaki, 2008). Armed groups take advantage of children’s innocence, immaturity, vulnerability and desperation. When all else fail, these groups resort to kidnapping and coercion to get children as part of their group. There had been a reported incident in Liberia where a 7- year old child refused to join the rebels but was forced to do so when the rebels killed his younger brother (Singer, 2007).
These children are then brought to “boot camps” where they are trained and indoctrinated. They teach the children how to use ammunitions. Children are forced to kill animals and sometimes human prisoners in order for them to be desensitized to the sight of blood and death. Most of the children are also forced to take drugs to numb their minds and bodies in battles.  The result of this strategy is the children’s breakdown of defenses and memories, making them fighters who do not have empathy and any feelings for the civilian population.


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