The issue regarding children being recruited to fight wars may seem black and white, however it is far from it. Thousands of children are fighting as child soldiers around the globe, with more and more being recruited each day. In the last ten years, a reported two million have been killed. There are many different viewpoints on how this issue is perceived and handled, many of which who blame the children for joining rebel forces, not fully understanding the torture, kidnapping and conditioning that goes into turning a child into a fighter.
The first perspective comes from those who are doing the recruiting of child soldiers. There are many reasons why a young child can be used in a dangerous field of action. One of the reasons is that children can easily be camouflaged in battle, being that no one would suspect them (Bethune, 2010). Another reason is that they are small enough to carry around and yet be strong enough to carry weapons. This makes them easily disposable, but useful. Children who are recruited at a young age are more likely to be loyal to the regime then those who are older and can conclude doubts (Bethune, 2010).
The other perspective is from the children themselves. There are many reasons why a child would be abducted or forced to fight, however there are some who join voluntarily. Even though children can ask to join on their own free will, it is still not regarded as being voluntarily. Children are not consenting adults, and they should be the responsibility of adults, and not given the right to make these choices. It’s just like how a child who consents to sex with someone over age does not make it right or consensual. Some children come home to their war-torn country after being displaced and find themselves in the position of having to run the household. War can cause disability and trauma. Most children soldiers are from impoverished countries. These circumstances can cause some children to look for help in the arms of rebel forces that promise food and shelter (Child and Armed Conflict, 2007).
Joseph Kony was known as a man who murdered mass amounts of people in Uganda, forming the group called the LRA and forced children to join his forces. Kony had a number of different methods in brainwashing children to fight for his cause. One of those reasons was putting fear in them if they escaped, making threats that they will be killed if they attempt to do so (Allen, T. et al, 2014). Another way was to convince the children that he was almost godly like, so they feared him even more. Another reason was that he convinced those who fought with him that they would be given government positions after they overthrew them. This led children to false hope and being brainwashed (Allen, T. et al, 2014).
Another reason why a child can believe going to war will benefit them is because of the painful realities they witness, like their family members being shot, or sisters being raped. The anger they feel can be turned into feelings of revenge. Families can also encourage children to join terrorist organizations because of that same anger toward the government and the state of the country. In their eyes, it’s defending the rights of the citizens (N.A, 2008).
The United Nations/Organizations
The issue of child soldiers is a worldwide problem, and organizations and the UN have declared this an issue that needs to be solved immediately. Boys and girls are recruited everyday for duties that include being human shields, to spies and guards. Both girls and boys are used as sex slaves and kept hostage for sexual purposes. Organizations work with designated NGO’s to work towards releasing boys and girls and reintegrating them into safe environments. They also work towards the prevention of recruitment and abduction of children through research and awareness (Child Soldiers International, 2007)
Human right laws were created to help ensure children are not being recruited as child soilders, and if they are, then the recruiters will be persecuted to the highest extent. The minimum age of recruitment is 18, and anyone under that is declared as committing a war crime under international and humanitarian law (N.A, 2008).