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The rising cases of children involvement in armed conflicts are alarming. Over the years children below the age of 18 years have continued to be recruited in various armies to offer military services. This research paper comes at a time when governments have been put on the spotlight for neglecting its children and exposing them to various dangers. Human rights activists are no longer amused with the treatment of the so called child soldiers by oppressive groups of people who have never known peace. This research paper begins with an introduction outlining the various forms of child USE in military. The body consists of a thesis statement, methodology and findings. Towards the end of the paper is a conclusion and recommendations based on the findings contained in the body.
Throughout the world children have been used to provide military services even when such practices were considered a taboo by tradition. The history of child soldiers is long rooted and their participation in world war one and two cannot be ignored by scholars. Its impacts are pervasive and deep .Child combats are commonly used in almost all humanitarian conflicts throughout the world .Children below the age of 18 participate in wars mainly in three forms namely: as direct soldiers, as spy soldiers and informers as well as in political propaganda. Despite intervention by human activist groups throughout the world since 1970 children recruitment into armies continue to hit headlines in almost every other country.
The mystery of child use in military continues to bedevil many nations, poor and rich alike. Every day we, loose children in wars; others become orphaned in the process while another group returns home with permanent disability. This research paper seeks to answer an often asked question: why does it seem so impossible to stop child use in military?
The following objectives were formulated all aimed at meeting the requirements of the research.
- To investigate the methods used for recruitment of children into military.
- To investigate the impacts of children participation in military
- To find out the reasons for the widespread use of children in military activities
The following hypotheses were generated in line with the study objectives for verification during the research endeavor.
- Most children used in military are drawn from developing nations
- The widespread use of children in military is due to poverty
The research was conducted using various methods in order to collect reliable data. The methods used for data collection were as follows:
- Administering questionnaires
- Conducting interviews
- Analysis of archived data
Informed questionnaires were developed and administered to different groups. The questionnaires were administered over the internet through emails. The questionnaires were aimed at collecting data from affected families, government agencies and human rights groups. The questionnaires were aimed at verifying the research hypothesis and contained questions regarding availability of information concerning use of children in military.
Various groups of people were interviewed regarding the subject .Some interviews were conducted on a face to face basis while others were carried out over the phone. Interviews were conducted to provide second source of data for comparison purposes. Data obtained from interviews was later compared with that obtained from other sources and used for the literature review.
Analysis of Archived Data
Information contained in books, manuals, journals and in databases was analyzed and used as the third source of data for the research. Such information was obtained from government and human rights agencies. Such information related to children believed to have participated in military activities, information regarding the means of their recruitment and the impacts imposed to them by their participation. Archived data was an essential source and marked an important means of comparison.
Findings and Literature Review
The following observations were made and significantly analyzed in relation to the study objectives to form the literature review. The observations were characterized into the following independent subtopics.
Children Involvement and Recruitment
It was found out that in most countries the recruitment of children under the age of 18 years was illegal. Further observations revealed that the involvement of those below the age of 15 years amounted to an international crime famously referred to as the war crime. Despite the existing prohibitions research revealed that children recruitment into militia groups, military, paramilitaries, army and other armed groups continue to take place throughout the world. Findings indicated that most children who find themselves into such groups do so unconsciously and are unable to return to their homes. Some militia groups, for example conduct oaths to those involved and a breach of the oaths automatically warrants death.
The methods of recruitment identified included: abduction, inheritance and voluntary participation. Child abduction takes place in public streets, schools, boarders among other places. Abduction of children was common especially in war prone zones with militia groups identified as the major beneficiaries. Voluntary participation was identified to take place due to: religious reasons, government interventions to protect pours boarder, as well as in cases of coups. Inheritance was also identified to affect nations with trends of war where sons replace their fathers in military posts after death. Inheritance was common both in armies as well as militia groups.
Reasons for Children Involvement in Military Activities
Various reasons as to why children are involved in military activities were identified and documented. Third world countries, offered their children in exchange for money as a result of poverty. In addition to poverty limited resources and competition gave rise to wars in countries such as Somalia forcing children to join militia groups to protect their reserves. Dictatorial systems of governments common to developing nations led to children recruitment into military, either to protect or oppose the government. Porous borders and competition for supremacy was also identified as another factor leading to children involvement in military .As nations compete to control resources and gain land, children are often recruited into military in order to increase military human resources.
The research revealed that more than twenty countries used children in military activities. Most of the countries came from developing nations. African nations identified included: Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Rwanda, and Burundi among others. Those identified from Asia included Philippines, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan Others included: Yugoslavia, Chechen, Italy, UK, and Greece from Europe. Those identified from America include: Canada US and Columbia
Impacts of Children Involvement in Military Activities
Children are drawn into activities too violent for them to withstand. Children involved in military activities face varies challenges, such challenges include: exposure to psychological disorders, physical damages and death. Such children are deprived of their childhood life and uncovered to awful dangers during their training and involvement in armed attacks. They suffer psychological traumas owing to their inability to conceive scenes they often encounter. Some become disabled as a result of their participation and are rendered hopeless. Those used as are used as spies, porters, messengers and servants are exposed to danger of animal attacks with some disappearing from time to time never to be seen again .Girls are exposed to rape and sexual violation. Separation from parents and families yield psychological problems and the list is endless. During escape children often encounter threats, dangerous animals, physical barriers, shelling, diseases, inadequate food and water shortages among other problems.
Efforts to Combat Children Participation in Military
The research endeavor revealed many efforts that have been put in place in an attempt to address the problem of children soldiers. Various legal provisions opposed to children participation in military activities were exposed. Although no much fruits have been born by these efforts, the research revealed that significant progress was underway. In 1999 an international labor law prohibiting the recruitment and participation of children below the age of 18 years in wars was adopted. Ratifying countries promised to adopt mechanisms to alleviate the participation of children in military activities. February 12th was set apart as a world day against child abuse playing a role in enhancing children rights. There are a variety of other nongovernmental organizations aimed at protecting children rights in many countries.
Children participation in military activities has pervasive effects and the practice should be fought to its very end. Efforts to fight the menace have born little fruits and should be quickened in order to save languishing families from their dairy woes. Though there are promising efforts towards meeting this course the journey remains long with many challenges to be surmounted.
There are a number of steps that can be taken in order to eradicate children exploitation through military activities. These steps include:
- Identification of affected families through public registration should be encouraged. Most families whose children were kidnapped by militia men remain unknown to governmental and non-governmental offices. Such registration would help in the fight against the menance.
- Provision of food and support services to poverty prone areas to avoid exploitation of families.
- Provision of security by government agencies to avoid escalation of security threats. Most children join military activities in order to protect their families and resources against exploitation.