Furthermore, encounters with child soldiers can greatly demoralize professional fighters. As soldiers, children often witness or commit horrifying atrocities including rape, beheadings, amputations, and burning people alive. Those who are fortunate enough to survive their military experience are often left with severe mental health problems.
Child Soldiers | Human Rights Watch
Furthermore, they often lack basic survival skills, as the armies using them provide food and shelter. Various human rights groups have set up programs to help rehabilitate demobilized child soldiers, but they can only do so much, says Victoria Forbes Adams of the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. With entire generations of scarred children heightening the chances of recurring conflict, Adams says more long-term analysis of these programs is needed.
Of course, the most effective way to stop the use of child soldiers is to end the conflicts in which they fight. Beyond this, there are few viable strategies.
As a result, governments rarely include children in their armies. However, government forces are often aligned with militias who do enlist children. In Afghanistan, for instance, U. Preventing the use of children by militias and opposition forces is a true challenge, as these groups rarely respond to advocacy and imposing sanctions on them is quite difficult. One approach is prosecution.
However, the ICC has no police force to arrest these individuals, who remain at large. The Special Court for Sierra Leone ruled in that recruiting child soldiers is a war crime and has begun prosecutions. Though this is taking place after the fact, it may set a precedent for future recruiters of child soldiers. Women and Women's Rights. Women Help Prevent Terrorism. Treaties and Agreements. Vietnam War. Backgrounder by Jonathan Masters August 12, In Brief by Brad W. Setser August 8, Women and Economic Growth.
Skip to main content. Backgrounder Current political and economic issues succinctly explained. Introduction The use of children as soldiers in armed conflict is among the most morally repugnant practices in the world, as illustrated by this Los Angeles Times photo essay. What is a child soldier? How widespread is the use of child soldiers? They and other new recruits had been promised large sums of money in return for joining the CNDD.
The reintegration program aimed to provide sustainable support to each family through appropriate assistance decided on an individual basis, including the possibility to provide vocational and professional education for an month period, and psychosocial support and medical care for those with severe illnesses and injuries. In March Alain Mugabarabona was continuing to oppose the demobilization of nine child soldiers from the FNL Mugabarabona , who had been in a camp for nearly one year, despite their expressed wish to leave the force.
Child soldiers with other armed movements, estimated to number around 3,, were to be covered under the general DDR program. Concern was expressed that this might lead to children not being covered by either program. There were also concerns as to whether the special needs of girl child soldiers would be adequately addressed, 35 and whether child soldiers officially recruited into the government armed forces and not considered as children "accompanying" the military doriya , were indeed all demobilized.
Some of the demobilized children expressed concern that adequate preparations had not been made for their reintegration into civilian society, leading to fears they might rejoin armed political groups. Under Burundian law, a child under the age of 13 is not criminally responsible for their actions and cannot be detained.
Children between the ages of 13 and 18 receive reduced sentences and may not be sentenced to death.
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In practice the law is not always respected and many children have difficulty in proving their age. Government child soldiers faced trial by military courts conseils de guerre which fell far short of international standards for fair trial. Approximately of Burundi's 8, prison population were juveniles, a minority of them former child soldiers. Several from government forces were detained on accusations or charges of murder or acts of violence. In some of these cases, it appeared that the children had been traumatized by their war experiences.
All potentially faced years of detention before being tried and were at risk of ill-treatment and torture. In September Amnesty International reported on the case of Mossi Rukundo, who had not been charged three years after his arrest in , aged 14, on suspicion of involvement with an armed political group. Another year-old child, arrested in June on suspicion of FNL membership and involvement in the murder of a Bujumbura local government official, was stabbed and beaten during a period of incommunicado detention following his arrest.
The truth about child soldiers
In March he had not been tried. Although the National Assembly issued a successful legal challenge that enabled the bill to be forwarded to the President for signature, it had not been signed into law as of March The UN made several appeals on behalf of child soldiers to the government and to the leaders of armed political groups.
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Search Refworld. Child soldiers of the resistance Mong Tai Army during training with their commander in Myanmar in A child with a gun sits in a car with Rwandan Patriotic Front partisans patrolling the streets of Kigali, Rwanda, in June Young recruits are addressed by the head of the so-called Mong Thai Army in Burma in Story highlights Mark A. Drumbl: Use of girls as child soldiers often overlooked Generalizations dominate issue of child soldiers, he says.
But ISIS is far from the first or only group to treat children in such a wretched way. There are tens of thousands of child soldiers under age 18 around the world, from South America to Africa to Southeast Asia to recent conflicts in the Balkans. The Kony video that went viral, for example, featured children in the Lord's Resistance Army in northern Uganda.
Boko Haram, in Nigeria, also dreadfully abuses children. Children associated with armed forces and armed groups typically serve as porters, sentries, spies, cooks or cleaners. Many are sex slaves.
Some, however, carry weapons on their own, exercise authority over others and commit atrocities against adults and children alike. There is, though, an oft-overlooked point that also highlights one of the difficulties we face if we are going to tackle the problem of child soldiers.
This point, as much as any other, underscores why it is time to rethink how we view child soldiers. If we are going to develop effective responses to child soldiering, the international community needs to move past two dominant images. These two dominant images cast child soldiers either as passive, helpless victims who have been abused into serving as tools of war or, on the other hand, as bloodthirsty fighters with considerable autonomy who kill with sadism and zeal. As I have outlined in my book, both images are unhelpfully crude generalizations. Children who end up in armed groups arrive there from along a number of paths and for divergent reasons.
And children are, of course, individuals. Hence, they act in different ways once they are in these armed groups. Some children are abducted, drugged, brainwashed and brutalized. Many refuse to kill, some kill to survive, others murder to thrive.