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Child Soldiering


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When one thinks of war, images such as uniformed men carrying heavy artillery, and armored tanks may come to mind. People who have volunteered to stand and fight for their country. Dead bodies scattered around a blown up city. But who would guess that in the majority of wars today, these “people” are just young children, most not even old enough to drive. While children here are learning how to read and write, spending their free time playing, kids in countries such as Burma, Uganda ad Sri Lanka are learning to how to use guns to kill innocent people (Amnesty International USA, http//www.amnestyusa.org/children/child-soldiers/about-child-soldiers/page.do?id=1021176).

Today as many as three hundred thousand children, who are under the age of eighteen, serve as child soldiers for government forces and rebel groups in over thirty three armed conflicts around the world. That doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands more who serve as cooks, porters, guards, messengers, spies and sex slaves. Some of these children have joined because of economic or social pressure, while others were recruited out of force and threats and in some extreme cases, even abducted. Those who are poor, homeless, living in a combat zone, or lack an education are usually the main targets as they are the most vulnerable. This phenomenon is very critical, but not limited to Africa and Asia, where the children are on both ends of the gun (SWJ Editors, http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2008/04/child-soldiers).

I was first introduced to the use of child soldiers when watching the movie “Blood Diamond” starring Leonadro DiCaprio, which focused on the plight of child soldiers in Sierra Leone. I was appalled at this new crisis, as before I was exposed to this, I was in my own comfortable little world and had diminutive knowledge on what was going on outside. I questioned my dad about this, finding out everything about this injustice. It stuck with me for a couple of days and yet I took no action. However, as time passed by, I simply shrugged it off continuing to live my luxurious life. After extensive research, my world widened as I was brought to the attention that child soldiering was not only occurring in Sierra Leone, but in most countries in the Middle East, Europe and Latin America. It seems as though here in North America, only injustices that affect us directly or occur around us are the ones focused on. Abortion, poverty and homelessness are all issues that I have come across and stood against, but child soldiering was never brought up.

So what is one to do about this form of child abuse? It is like trying to stop a war.
People have been attempting to cease wars and make peace for decades and yet more and more people seem to be dying everyday. And for what? More conflicts to arise? I believe that there will never be an end to child soldiering unless there is an end to war, and at the moment it seems like an impossible dream. I could go on and on about how child soldiering is horrible, but it would not make a difference unless action is taken. There is not much we can do here, but we can try to make a small impact, instead of hearing and watching about it on television with a response of, “oh, that’s too bad”. One of the most important strategies to address this problem is prevention. The lack of access to basic needs such as education and a source of family income are the causes why a child may respond to recruitment. By raising funds and donating to nonprofit organizations such as “The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers” we can help to raise awareness and provide education for the victims in the war ridden countries. We can also help increase awareness to those around us and to the people in power by signing petitions and writing letters. By doing these minor actions we can help to lessen the amount of child soldiers used, and maybe one day get rid of them completely. Child Soldiering is tragic, and unfair, it’s injustice.




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This article has 3 comments. Post your own!

Peace On Earth said...
Feb. 20, 2010 at 1:59 pm:
Genius. It really brings the issue close to heart. Why do adults who can't solve their own problems use innocent children to do it for them?
 
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Pali said...
Feb. 11, 2009 at 10:36 pm:
It is quite topical and impressive article. brings moisture to eyes as unsympathetic warmongers in some parts of the world relentlessly utilize the services of young children as soldiers to achieve their ends.This is something annihilated by world powers.Article is culled with sufficent facts and ideas to motivate to act against this inhuman exploitation
 
Peace on Earth replied...
Feb. 20, 2010 at 2:04 pm :
Are you Buddhist?
 
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