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Child Recruitment and Use

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    All over the world, battles and wars are constantly being fought. With war and fighting comes casualties which is a given. Due to shortages of soldiers, sometimes children are taken and turned into soldiers. It is common to think a lot of things when you hear the word child soldier. Maybe you don’t think anything of it, or maybe you are thinking about the tragedy of it all. Child soldiers are at risk because they have physical and emotional trauma, they are neglected, and their childhood is taken away from them.

    Child soldiers are at risk because of the first problem,they have physical and emotional trauma. According to the “ Do Something Campaign”, child soldiers can be used as fighters, cooks, suicide bombers, human shields, messengers, spies, or for sexual purposes. This obviously can lead to a lot of physical and emotional trauma. Children as young as ten years old have been reported to have been forced against their will to fight. Imagine this instead of playing on a bike as a kid outside you are risking your life everyday and being exposed to the constant death of those around you.

    Most children cannot deal with the pain and trauma and so they are forced to in a sense turn of their emotions and just continue as if this is normal even though it is far from it. According to World Psychiatry, “ Studies indicate that children can develop PTSD after exposure to a range of traumatic stressors, including violent crime, sexual abuse, natural disasters, and war”.It is so bad that many of these children are forced into rehab after they get out just to live a somewhat normal life after the dramatic experience. A part of it will always haunt them though, this isn’t something that you can just forget. According to the World Health Organization, Children are at risk for more diseases and can be brutally maimed or killed during this process. Many loose limbs and are physically scarred due to fighting in wars and battles or for not complying and following orders.

    According to Science Daily, more than a third of the boys and girls rescued has suffered violence or killed someone. According to Psychology Today, if the victim is far away and you can’t see them, then the psychological impact is less than if you see them die in front of you when you are the one doing the killing. If you can not see what you are doing, then it will affect you less according to statistics which makes sense. This still does have an impact though more so for children.

    Child Soldiers are also at risk because Of the second problem,they are neglected. Girls that are recruited at child soldiers are often used for sexual purposes and are often therefore shunned by their friends and family members when they get out. Sandra Ollson from Child Soldiers International discussed how these girls often have no wear to go.Even in the actual groups during the war, they are neglected because they have no loving family or affection, they have killing and war and drugs. Society tends to neglect them because they look at them and they think that they can’t be helped or they see the damage that has been done and they simply brush these poor children off to the side.

    There is a similar experience for the boys coming back home after they have gotten out. According to vision media, many of the boys are still considered rebels when they come home since they are the most known for killing. Since they are still viewed as rebels, they are often rejected because their families don’t want to associate with someone known as a rebel. This also causes the same issues as those of the girls because

    they are then left homeless. Organizations such as UNICEF and other aid and governmental organizations are dedicated to helping these children. They provide rehab which is much needed and help to get the ex soldiers jobs, get them back into school, and find them loving homes.

    Child soldiers are also at risk because of the third and final problem, their childhood is taken away from them. They are forced to Grow up too fast and become adults sometimes before puberty. They are stuck dealing with very adult issues and problems everyday that they shouldn’t have to be stuck dealing with. According to War child, a child soldier is someone recruited by a state or non state group under the age of 18 to take part in the war. You aren’t even considered an adult in the U.S until you .turn 18. Many of these children are torn from their homes and forced into a whole life some adults have trouble dealing with. The effects of it will stay with them forever, You can’t just go from playing with dolls to killing people and then back to simply being a child, that not how that works at all.

    There seems to be more bad then good for these poor children, but there are some solutions that can help to stop child soldiers. One of the first Solutions to the emotional and Physical trauma is probably rehab. In Rehab, they can help to wean the children off of drugs since many child soldiers are given drugs to keep them confused and to keep them awake and always ready to fight. There are also therapists and group homes for these children since many are shunned by society when they get out.

    There is an organization that is run by Sandra Olsson from Child soldiers international, she runs a group home for the sexually abused girls that are recovering from being child soldiers. In terms of the growing up to fast part, many children are placed in environments with non child soldiers to try and mold them back into society. They are given Love and shown affection so that they do not feel neglected in these homes which they may have felt when they were still child soldiers.

    Another solution is to make it illegal like in the U.S. to be enlisted in the army until you are 18. Even though in most countries have made being a child soldier illegal, countries such as Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Congo, Iraq, South Sudan, etc still use child soldiers to this day. Most countries know that this is an issue but have yet to do anything about it according to Global Citizen. According to Child soldiers international, the UN in 1989 declared that it is a war crime to enlist or use children under the age of 15 in any kind of war. The age is 15 because in Great Britain which is a part of the UN, you are considered an adult at the age of 16 and therefore recruite at the age of 16. Also according to Child soldiers international, most states as of 2018 have now signed OPAC. OPAC is an agreement that states governments can raise the enlistment age, but it cannot be lowered after it is raised.

    Another solution for those who have been neglected is Adoption. One example is from the book A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Baeh, it discusses how he and many of his fellow recovering child soldiers found loving families to adopt them in the U.S., this can solve problems of neglection. These families can help to heal the soldiers because they can support them and teach them to get back into society. American has not always been the most supporting country but in 2018, we are arguably one of the most accepting countries of new ideas and loving people for who they are no matter who they are.

    Some drawbacks of these solutions could be that child soldiers have been through so much it requires years of therapy and rehab can be expensive, not everyone can afford it. Although many organizations provide free rehab, many children still end up either never coming home therefore not receiving that rehab. Also locations that are more secluded such as tiny lesser known villages may not be reach these organizations who tend to focus on the more populated and well known cities affected by the issue of child soldiers.

    Also child soldiers placed with normal children may not fit in because they may be on a different maturity level than those of a child who did not go through a similar experience such as themselves. The group homes are only for getting the children back onto their feet again but are not permanent homes. Many child soldiers are orphans and so they have trouble finding a place to go after they are released from these homes or from rehab even. Even though adoption rates are high, there are still many children that remain orphanless. Those who are in the smaller villages who are shunned and orphanless with no access to therapy or rehab often struggle and commit suicide according to Child Soldiers International.

    To conclude, being a child soldier is an extremely tragic experience and is something we all need to be aware of. It is a very real issue and still goes on all over the world constantly. The children affected by it have trauma both physical and emotional to last them a lifetime. It is an issue that needs to be solved to save the lives of children and needs to be addressed to get more help for the victims of it. Even though it is widely recognized and taken care of, there still remain various countries doing nothing, this can change with the Solutions discussed above. With the help of The U.N, UNICEF, various countries governments, other organizations, and people of power, the change to help prevent the use of Child Soldiers is very possible .

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