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The Role Of Socialization Of Children In War

1305 words - 5 pages

For over 20 years, the Lord's Resistance Army has been at war with the government of Uganda, causing a civil war. The Army's Rebel Groups, have attacked small villages, resulting in thousands of innocent deaths, and the abduction of children to fight with the rebels. In order to maintain these organizations, the Rebel Groups are faced with the difficult task of recruiting individuals. With limited available resources, the Rebel Groups cannot offer any appealing incentives to their recruits, but require complete loyalty (Vermeij, 2009). A child's innocence, trust, and blind obedience make them desirable soldiers. For the Rebel Groups in South Africa, children are therefore strategically used as pawns in combat. Children under the age of 18 make up 60% of the Lord's Resistance Army (Vermeij), and “world-wide, 300 000 children are currently used as child soldiers” (Derluyn et. al). The purpose of my paper, is to explore the reasons why child soldiers remain loyal to their leaders and what measures these authorities take to maintain the power and control in their societies. A stolen innocence morphed into immorality, young boys are turned from child to monster, “we were dangerous, and brainwashed to kill” (Beah, 2007). What motivates these children to fall into such savage behaviour, and how does the Lord's Resistance Army motivate and control its members? Simply put, the socialization of the boys plays an essential role in creating the allegiance and conformity that is most prevalent amongst these Rebel Groups. Therefore socialization is a crucial tactic used by leaders to benefit and improve the army. The role of a strong authority figure for a child, the primary socialization of children, and the process of socialization within Rebel armies are all key factors in explaining this horrifying reality in South Africa.
Children who are recruited as soldiers are stripped of all dignity; they are beaten, harassed and left destitute (Amone-P'Olak). After the complete destruction of a child's milieu, biography and history, he begins to “doubt [his] ability to influence [his] environment [or] establish an identity” (Kline 2003). In search of a new gemeinschaft, the child looks towards Rebel Groups as a way to fill this void. Consumed by thoughts of a bleak and hopeless future, the boys find silver lining in the Rebel Leaders who present them with a new ambition. They brainwash the boys to believe that becoming a soldier is a way of fighting for something they believe in, and in turn, provide the boys with hope for the future. They motivate the boys by promoting the strongest and bravest as for a goal for the weaker to achieve.
The introduction of new rights and responsibilities for the boys, shapes an artificial civilization for the children to grow up in. The norms communicated by the army to each boy, create a strong basis for the development of a new personal biography (Oetting 1999). It is evident in children who...

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