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ElizabethWalla

3/11/15

ChildSoldiers

Haveyoueverawakenedthinkingthatyoumightbeforcefullyrecruitedintothearmy

withoutevenmakingthatdecision?Over300,000children,ourage,arefightinginawarright

now.Childrenfromsomeofthepoorestandweakestcountriesintheworldhavebeenselectedto

fightinanarmy.Childsoldiersarevictimsbecausetheirrightsandviolationsaretakenaway.

Variouschildrencommittobecomepartofagroup,oranarmy,becausetheydon’tfeel

liketheyhaveachoice.Thesegroupspromisefoodandshelterandabetterwayoflife,which

soundsgreatwhenyouarepoor,starvingandhavelostyourparentsandhavenohome.Army

recruiterstelltheyoungchildrenthattheyaregoingtoreceivecomplimentaryeducational

training,somethingthatishardtogetinsomecountries,aswellasweaponstraining.

Childsoldiersarechildrenundertheageof18whoarerecruitedbyastateandusedas

fighters,cooks,suicidebombers,humanshields,messengers,spiesorforsexualpurposes.Child

soldiersarerecruitedintothearmyoftheircountryataveryyoungage,regardlessofwhetheror

nottheywanttojointhearmyormilitary.Childrenaretakenfromtheirhomesandvillagesat

aroundtheageof10.Bothboysandgirlshavethesamedutiesandresponsibilities,butyoung

femalesoldiersareusedfor‘sexualpurposes.’

Inthelast13years,theuseofchildsoldiershasspreadtoalmosteveryregionofthe

world.“Africahasthelargestnumberofchildsoldiersintheworld.Childsoldiersarealsobeing

usedinarmedconflictinCentralAfricanRepublic,Chad,DemocraticRepublicofCongo,

SomaliaandSudan,”accordingtoWarChild.org.Childrenareusedassoldiersbecausetheyare

easiertoconditionandbrainwash.Theydon’teatmuchfoodandhaveanundevelopedsenseof

dangersotheyareeasiertosendintocombat.Childrenareoftensentintobattleasscouts,

decoysandhumanshields.

Childrencangetrecruitedintothearmyveryeasily.Theytrytoescapetheirvillagesand

whentheyarelaterspottedandfoundbysoldiers,theyaretakenin,recruited,druggedand

forcedtokill.Somechildrenareabductedfromtheirhomesandforcedtobecomesoldiers.

GraceAkallo,aformerfemalechildsoldier,wasforeverchangedwhenshewasabducted

fromherCatholicschoolalongwith139otherschoolgirls.“Ispentsevenmonthsincaptivity,

butIsurvived,IescapedandIwentbackhome,”shesaid. Gracesaidifchildrenranoutof

bullets,they’dhavetoshoottheirfriendinordertoreceivemorebullets.Graceexperienced

everythingfromseeingadultsusechildrenashumanshieldstoseeingyounggirlsheragegetting

pregnantwiththeadultmenthere.

About40%ofallchildsoldiersintheworldaregirlsandwhilemanygirlsaren’trequired

tofightinsomecountries,theyare‘requiredtotreatthemenafteralongdayofwork,’according

toChildSoldiers.org.Femalechildsoldiersareoftenonlydepictedas‘sexslaves,’buthave

manyofthesamerolesandresponsibilitiesofmales.Manyotherrolesmightinclude:spy,cook

orchef,suicidebomberoraweaponstrainer.Femalesoldiersareusedasspiesandare

consideredhighlyvaluedamongcertainarmygroups.GraceAkallo,aformerfemalechild

soldier,wasforcedtomarchthroughtheforestwhenshewasabductedfromherschoolin1996.

Gracewalkedthroughthejunglehungry,thirstyandoutofenergy,beatenverybrutallyand

forcedtobeatotherchildreninordertolive.

Akalloalsotalkedabouthowshethought,JosephKony,theleaderofthegroupwhoabducted

herfromherschool,wasgoingtophysicallyeather.Shesaidhebrought[dead]peopleintothe

roomandsaidthattheyweretryingtoescape.

OnceGracegotoutofthearmy,itwasharderforhertocomebackandfocusonthingsinthe

‘real’world.Astudywaslaterconductedsayingthatfemalesarefrequentlythemostchallenging

childsoldierstorehabilitate.

Althoughchildsoldiersarebrainwashedanddruggedintobelievingthatkillingisthe

rightthingtodo,childrenmakethedecisionbyleavingtheirvillagesonpurposetogoandjoin

thearmy.Childsoldieringisverybad,buttherearesomepositivethingsaboutthewholeidea.

Childrenareeasilymotivatedandfastontheirfeetwhensomethingwouldcomeafterthem.The

childrenaresmallandcompactandareperfectformessengers,scouts,bombmakersandsuicide

bombers.Somepeoplesaythatchildrenaremoreeffectiveinambushesandfights.

Inconclusion,childrenarenotalwaysresponsiblefortheiractionsandresponsibilities.

Children’srightsandviolationsaretakenawayataveryyoungageandtheyhavenocontrol

overthat.