People generally relate war to long lines of men in uniform, holding guns, marching alongside tanks and other types of armored vehicles. The image of manslaughter, mass murder and death sprawl across the thoughts of families at home, waiting for their husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters to finally be finished their tour and come home. However what people commonly misunderstand is that there is a growing population of youth militia being used in modern guerilla military.
The United Nations defines a child soldier as “any person under 18 years of age who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group [acting] in any capacity, including but not limited to cooks, porters, messengers and anyone accompanying such groups.” The current estimate says there are currently 300,000 child soldiers worldwide. The use of child soldiers becomes especially problematic when children are abducted or coerced into joining government, paramilitary or rebel forces, as happens in many third world and developing countries. Children are easy to recruit because of their vulnerability, but are often neglected once the conflict is over or when they leave the group. International groups have advocated for the rehabilitation of child soldiers, but children are often overlooked during official implementation.
Definition of Key Terms:
Child Soldier - Any person under 18 years of age who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group [acting] in any capacity.
Rehabilitation - the restoration of someone to a useful place in society.
Conflict – open clash between two opposing groups (or individuals).
Guerilla – a member of a regular armed force the fights a stronger force by sabotage and harassment.
Earliest mentions of children being involved in wars date back to the customary duties of youth in the Mediterranean countries to serve as aides, charioteers and armor bearers to adult warriors. Examples of the use of Child Soldiers can be found in places such as the Bible, in stories such as David and Goliath when David was a servant and soldier of King Saul at a young age; as well as Egyptian art and Greek mythological stories such as Hercules, which also contain widespread use of child soldiers.
In medieval Europe, young boys from about twelve years of age were used as military aides ("squires"), even though their role in actual combat was limited. The appropriately named Children’s Crusade in 1212 recruited thousands of children as untrained soldiers under the assumption that divine power would enable them to conquer the enemy, although none of the children actually entered combat; according to the legend, they were instead sold into slavery. While most scholars no longer believe that the Children's Crusade consisted solely, or even mostly, of children, it nonetheless exemplifies an era in which the entire family took part in a war effort.
In World War II,...