Child soldiers

sample essay about Child soldiers

Child soldiers

Thousands of children are being recruited in warring countries to fight in armed forces. Children as young as 8 years old are abducted from the safety of their homes and forced to serve as soldiers in armed conflicts. These armed forces are basically militia groups that are in opposition with their governments. The children are trained by force and then made to participate by acting as spies, conducting suicide missions or even fighting on the front lines.

Using of children in the military is however not a new thing. Throughout history there are numerous cases of children being used in battle. Even then, it was not an accepted norm. Since then, numerous organizations and initiatives have come up in an effort to combat the vice.

Most child soldiers are gotten from poor families. Those children displaced from their homes due to conflict also have high chances of being taken in as child soldiers. Children living in combat zones have a higher risk of being recruited into militia groups. Girls who are recruited into the militia are at a higher risk of being victims of sexual violence than the boys.

Although the children are victims, some of them volunteer to be child soldiers. Experts however claim that the children do so as a result of societal pressure. Some join militia groups in the hope of making money so that they can help their poor families. If apprehended, child soldiers are judged more leniently in comparison to adult militia men. Those children who joined the illegal forces voluntarily are charged based on the international juvenile justice standards.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that ‘State parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons who have not attained the age of 15 years do not take a direct part in hostilities’ – Article 38. This law protects children up to 15 years of age. However the rest who are still under the age of 18 years can be also become child soldiers. In 2002 the Opiton Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict was effected. The United Nations through the protocol mandates the member states to ‘take all feasible measures to ensure that persons below the age of 18 do not take a direct part in hostilities and that they are not compulsorily recruited into their armed forces. Take all feasible measures to prevent such recruitment and use, including the adoption of legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices. (Art 4, Optional Protocol.)’

Governments therefore have a major role to play to ensure that they protect their children and women who are the ones who are most vulnerable in volatile regions. Creating education and awareness in the regions where child soldiers are common is very important. Governments need to understand that the children are victims first regardless of the crimes they have committed. Communities living in volatile areas have to be educated in order to protect their children from joining such forces.


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