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Child Soldiers: Kill Or Be Killed

2349 words - 10 pages

“This is how wars are fought now: by children, traumatized, hopped-up on drugs, and wielding AK-47s” (Beah). Innocent, vulnerable, and intimidated. These words describe the more than 300,000 children in nations throughout the world coerced into combat. As young as age seven, boys and girls deemed child soldiers participate in armed conflict, risking their lives and killing more innocent others. While many individuals recollect their childhood playing games and running freely, these children will remember “playing” with guns and running for their lives. Many children today spend time playing video games like Modern Warfare, but for some children, it is not a game, it is reality. Although slavery was abolished nearly 150 years ago, the act of forcing a child into a military position is considered slavery and is a continuously growing trend even today despite legal documents prohibiting the use of children under the age of 18 in armed conflict. Being a child soldier does not merely consist of first hand fighting but also work as spies, messengers, and sex slaves which explains why nearly 30 percent of all child soldiers are girls. While the use and exploitation of these young boys and girls often goes unnoticed by most of the world, for those who have and are currently experiencing life as a child soldier, such slavery has had and will continue to have damaging effects on them both psychologically and physically.

In order to understand the effects that come with being a child soldier, one must first understand how a child ends up in such a position. To three teenage boys living in a small Indian village, the hope of a better life for themselves and their families as well as the affirmation of employment seemed promising. So promising they left behind the only life they ever knew to find it but what they found was far from what they expected. In a jungle thousands of miles from home, the boys found themselves at the center of military training. Confined to a small room and put through extensive and brutal training, the hope for a better life seemed further from reach (Sen). This scenario represents just one of the many ways an army recruits children to kill. Typically, a child is abducted, taken from their home or even their school and forced to participate in armed conflict by government forces or rebel groups. In some cases, a town may be required to enlist a certain number of children from their village in return for the protection and safety of it’s people. Parents, too, may volunteer their child due to poverty and hunger in an effort to provide for their families. Often, a child even recruits themselves for their own motives such as the desire to have a family or to escape abuse and other issues at home which motivated the three teenage boys from India. In general, children face a greater risk of being recruited simply because of their vulnerability and the ability for them to be easily persuaded. According to the Machel Report, “Child...

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