ABOUT CHILD SOLDIERS Children are recruited because they are more manageable, more obedient, and more easily manipulated than adults. Children are also less conscious of danger, and it is harder for them to see the difference between “absence” and “death”. Combined with questions of poverty, the lack of access to education or training, discrimination, and vulnerability, children are easy targets for recruitment by armed groups. Children who are orphaned, unaccompanied or living in a difficult family environment, see it as a solution to their problems, and taking part in an armed group seems safer than confronting these problems. Revenge, community identity, and ideology can also influence children. Armed groups often target children because they “cost less”: the necessary investments for recruiting, training, and arming children are less than for adults. What’s more, today children are generally recruited in civil war environments, which are long and cause heavy casualties. As a result, children replace adults dead in combat.There are more than 300,000 children currently taking part in approximately 36 armed conflicts around the globe. Nearly half a million additional children serve in armies not currently at war, such that 40 percent of the world's armed organizations have children in their ranks. Since 2001, the participation of child soldiers has been reported in 21 on-going or recent armed conflicts in almost every region of the world.Children are most likely to become child soldiers if they are poor, separated from their families, displaced from their homes, living in a combat zone or have limited access to education. Child soldiers also suffer from psychological effects / trauma due to killing people.
About 30 percent of armed groups are using girls as child soldiers.
Are girls used as soldiers?
Yes. Trusting, vulnerable, and often intimidated, children can easily be manipulated, experts say. In combat, children can be daring and tenacious, particularly when under the influence of drugs—a common practice—or when compelled by political or religious zeal. Child units can greatly add to confusion on battlefields, slowing opposing forces' progress. Children have also been used as scouts, messengers, minesweepers, bomb-makers, and suicide bombers. Child units are also effectively used as advance troops in ambush attacks. Girls are often subjected to sexual abuse, and in some cases are taken as mistresses by the commanders. Both girls and boys are used in armed conflict and play a wide variety of roles. They are also use in other roles such as porters, couriers, spies, guards, suicide bombers or human shields, or also doing the domestic duties such as cooking and cleaning.
What are some of the psychological traumas of being a child soldier? Psychological traumas can also occur from painful and frightening medical treatments and living with disability, especially in poor resources countries. It is estimated that about 4 million children have become physically handicapped and disabled after they were wounded in conflict over the last decade. Child war survivors have to cope with repeated traumatic life events, exposure to combat, shelling and other life threatening events, acts of abuse such as torture or rape, violent death of a parent or friend, witnessing loved ones being tortured or injured, separation from family, being abducted or held in detention, insufficient adult care, lack of safe drinking water and food, inadequate shelter, explosive devices and dangerous building ruins in proximity, marching or being transported in crowded vehicles over long distances and spending months in transit camps. Research shows that after being a child soldier the child's personality development and skills developments are hindered and they tend to be more violent and aggressive as they get older.
Where are child soldiers located in the world?
There are more than 15 countries that child soldiers are located but countries such as Afghanistan, Burma, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Cambodia, DR Congo, India, Iraq, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Thailand and Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, Mali and Libya has a higher population of child soldiers. Approximately 300,000 children are believed to be combatants in some thirty conflicts worldwide. Nearly half a million additional children serve in armies not currently at war, such that 40 percent of the world's armed organizations have children in their ranks. Since their ratification of the Optional Protocol, many armies, including that of the United States, adjusted their enlistment policies in compliance with the new regulations
Why are child soldiers recruited?
Forced recruitment is a common and carefully planned process in which children are abducted and tortured. In cases of forced recruitment, the recruiters typically target places where children are most vulnerable and gathered in large numbers: in particular, children are abducted from schools, orphanages, refugee camps, stadiums, and churches. Children are gauged according to their height and physical condition. To subdue them, recruiters don’t hesitate to rape, beat, and torture them, and even to kill members of their family…when they aren’t required to do it themselves. For girls, recruitment may lead to sex slavery. The report notes that in Uganda, for instance, young girls abducted by rebel forces were commonly divided up and allocated to soldiers to serve as their 'wives'.