Sorry for the last blog being a downer, but I felt like this was something that really needed to be said.
Playtime, recess, toys, fun, happiness, and family: things the typical child experiences, and often takes for granted.
Drugs, violence, rape, injury, and death: the reality for many soldiers.
The above things are easily pictured, but seem completely disconnected. After all, what part of war can children have? They don’t fight, and are protected by the Adults that fight and commit war. Therefore, there must be no connection between the two!
The world’s most forgotten victims and committers of War: Child Soldiers.
And I say VICTIMS first and foremost. Though the majority of child soldiers do volunteer for these armies, most often children do so because it offers them the best chance of survival. And I said majority: think of the minority who don’t volunteer to join. Who are coerced or forced to, and then fight for a cause they don’t believe in.
But who in their right mind would choose children? I mean, wouldn’t go against the ingrained protective instinct many have (many because pedos, and serial killers. Looking at you Jeffrey Dahmer, and Luis Garavito)?
Simply, they are easy to mold and manipulate, especially if the kid is on drugs, and are pretty expendable. This is especially true in places like Africa (I realize this is a continent. Deal.), where the AIDS epidemic leave many children without parents. Also, especially in wars where the UN or “western nations” are involved, who would be able to shoot at a kid and not feel tremendous guilt?
And don’t just picture boys in this role. Yeah, boys are used a lot here, but girls are used as kid soldiers too. And on top of that, they aren’t always kept safe sexually, as commanders will use them to…relieve stress lets say. And even if they get pregnant, who cares! They still have to fight. And the their own child will follow them into the battlefield.
And after the war? After all the murder, rape, and drugs? What then? The short answer: mental issues.From PTSD to just adjusting back to being a civilian, they have it rough. Often lacking basic survival skills (why develop them when everything is given to you in camp?), they have a hard time being once they are done with the experience. And that is just if they survive.
And think that there can’t be many of these victims? Yeah, try around 300,000 worldwide in conflict, and another half million in armies not so. Yeah, there are too many.
But what can be done? Well, one end the conflict. But that only works of they are actually in a conflict. In other words, only those 300,000 would be helped this way. So…what about that other half million? Well, not much by outside forces. You can’t control guns very easily in unstable nations, and sometimes the definition of “child” is different in other countries. Worldwide, its supposed to mean anyone under the age of 18. But other places may allow 17 year olds in, technically breaking this rule, but in reality not really damaging the individual anymore than the average soldier. But yeah…not much.
So yeah…PSA done with now. But if you want more insight to these groups, you can check out some autobiographies I’ve read : A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Child Soldier and They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky. The first book is from the perspective of a child soldier during the civil war in Sierra Leone. It really is a great insight on how a child’s psyche is affected by being and active participant in war. However, be prepared. This book can be a bit graphic and is not for people easily upset by torture and the like. While the second book is not from a soldiers perspective, it does deal with how children perceive the war they are caught in. This book follows a group of kids as they flee Sudan’s civil way to a Kenyan refugee camp, and their struggles while going so and while at the camp. Again, not for the faint of heart. Finally, you can go here to read see where I got my stats and where children are being used as soldiers today.