June 3, 2010
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There are more than 300,000 child soldiers in the world. That’s almost equivalent to the population of Seattle. Imagine yourself on the front lines having to fight a seven year old boy who does not even know how to use a gun. Imagine seeing a boy as young as seven carrying an AK-47, or an M-16 using it to kill people how would that make you feel. In 1889 the United Nations created the united convention for children’s rights, which is a meeting that enforces the children’s rights to protection, participation, nondiscrimination, the right to survival and development. A goal that was discussed in the convention in article 39 was “Governments must do everything they can to protect and care for children affected by war. Children under 15 should not be recruited to take part in a war or join the armed forces” (UNICEF). Child soldiers are an important issue in the world and need to be more recognized. We should care because thousands of children die doing this cruel and violent child labor. Children should not be introduced to this kind of fighting at such a young age. A possible solution to eliminate child soldiers throughout the world is to help enforce the law to stop anyone under the age of 15 to be in the army or rebel groups or to try and catch the people who abduct the children and force them into the armed forces.

Child soldiers are children under the age of 15 in the armed forces. The reason child soldiers are used is because they are easier to control, and because they don’t ask questions. There are currently 17 countries that have child soldiers, in some countries a third or more of the child soldiers were reported to be girls, From 1985-1995 2 million children lost their lives in conflict, 1 million children were separate from their parents by conflict. Between 4 and 5 million children were seriously injured by conflict, most soldiers under 15 are to be found in non-governmental military organizations, Most child soldiers under 18 have been recruited into Governmental armed force, there are about 1600 child soldiers in “El Salvador, in Angola an estimated 9000 boys under the age of eighteen may have served with the FAA and other militia groups, more than 15,000 child soldiers fought on all sides of the Liberian civil war” (Human rights watch), more than 11,000 children fight in Colombia's armed conflict, an optional protocol prohibiting the recruitment or use of children as soldiers was completed and opened for signature and ratification by all States in June 2000 The government forces and the rebel forces benefit because they don’t have to risk their men and get the children to do anything they want. The short term and long term impacts on their lives are that most are disabled, killed, or mentally scared forever. They most likely never get good education, become abusive parents, and do not get proper health care.

At the age of 12 Ishmael Beah fled his village of Sierra Leone because of attacking rebels and at the age of 13 he was captured, drugged, and forced into the fighting by the government forces. He then witnessed a lot of things and created a book. Ishmael is forced to run because of the war in Sierra Leone, over the control of the diamond industry. Being a child soldier risks the children’s life’s and introduces them to lots of death and that can mentally scar them. “In A LONG WAY GONE, Beah, now twenty-six years old, tells a riveting story. At the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. Eventually released by the army and sent to a UNICEF rehabilitation center, he struggled to regain his humanity and to reenter the world of civilians, who viewed him with fear and suspicion. This is, at last, a story of redemption and hope”. This is a story a first hand story about the horrors a child soldier faces.

The convention also states that “children who have been neglected, abused or exploited should receive special help to physically and psychologically recover” (Articles in the convention on the rights of the child # 39). This article states that all children who have been in the armed forces should be cared for both physically and psychologically. If this right was universally respected then there would be no children under the age of 15 in the armed forces. It would also make a big difference on the lives of the children because they would not have seen so many bad things in the army and it would prevent them from getting seriously injured, provide them a education, healthcare, and a family to look after the children.
An organization that helps prevent and stop child soldiers is young blood. Young bloods mission is to reduce and eliminate the use of child soldiers worldwide. The most significant step to ending the use of child soldiers is the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Optional Protocol (also called the Child Soldiers Protocol) is an optional extension to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which allows for children as young as 15 to participate in armed conflict. The new protocol defines a child as a person under 18, and makes it illegal for a child to be forcefully conscripted into the army or a non-governmental militant group. It establishes 16 as the minimum for voluntary recruitment, and requires parental consent and awareness of the duties of participation in the army for children between 18 and 16. Children under 18 are not to be involved in conflict directly. The convention mandates that governments take all measures to prevent the recruitment of children, including legal action. It also requires countries to submit a report documenting their efforts to execute the provisions in the protocol within two years of the sanction, and every five years after. There has been some progress like rehabilitation centers to help care for the children. We should care about the children because they are the future of this world and planet. I predict that the issue of child soldiers will be solved if the right amount of time and money go into it.

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Derek B. said...
Jun. 14, 2010 at 11:23 pm
yeah ish, good stuff
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