Children and adolescents become child soldiers

In the – on children’s rights it says that no children and young people, i.e. people under the age of 18, can be deployed to the military.
Despite this prohibition, there are many children and adolescents who fight as soldiers.

There are also many exceptions. Although the International Court of Justice in The Hague can convict anyone who adopts children under the age of 15. All of this does not stop exploitation: in some countries, younger children can volunteer to join the armed forces. This is e.g. also in Germany, where 17-year-olds can apply for service in the Bundeswehr. In Germany, however, they may not be used in wars. In other countries the date of birth of children and adolescents is falsified and in many countries there are no registration registers, so that the children themselves often do not know exactly how old they are. But what is much more important: some countries, but also armed groups, do not abide by agreements and laws. They simply force children to become soldiers.

It is estimated that there are approximately 250,000 child soldiers worldwide. Most of them fight in wars in Asian and African countries. The children have to kill, torture or kidnap other people. They often have to undertake dangerous and strenuous relief tasks that are important for the older soldiers. They are used as spies, messengers, guards, porters or servants or for laying mines.

Most children are not asked whether they want to become soldiers, but kidnapped and forced to do so. Children are threatened with harm to their parents and siblings if they do not fight. Other child soldiers come from very poor families and want to earn money to support their families. However, the promised money is usually not paid to them. The kidnappers often give the child soldiers drugs to make them less afraid and easier for them to shoot people. About a third of child soldiers are girls. Many of them also have to fight. However, they are exploited for other purposes even more frequently: for example as cooks or maids. Girls are very often affected by sexual violence. Many of them become pregnant even though they are still children themselves. Or they are infected with diseases such as HIV / AIDS, but the medical care of child soldiers is very poor.

It is more difficult for girls to return to their families than for boys. Many aid organizations that help child soldiers hardly take girls into account. They receive less medical or psychological care and hardly any money or the opportunity to do an apprenticeship. In some cases girls are not taken back by their families or in their villages, especially if they are sick or have children.

Now and then it is possible to help child soldiers. Either because the war is over or because they are out of the army to free could. Then they are brought to special children’s homes. Aid organizations are trying to help the children there help, to process the war and start a new life. However, this is very difficult. What they experienced in the war is so terrible that they will remember it forever. Many of the children always dream of the atrocities that they have seen or that they have committed themselves. Many child soldiers are too disturbed after the war to be able to live a life without fear.

Children all over the world need to be protected from being drawn into adult wars. It is not enough to prohibit the use of children in wars in contracts, the ban must also be enforced, worldwide. People who use child soldiers must be charged with war crimes.

In 2012, such commanders were sentenced for the first time. Every person responsible for military matters
Deploying children must expect to be brought to justice in the future. That should act as a deterrent. Every year the United Nations publishes a list of parties to the conflict who use and particularly endanger children in wars. The countries and rebel groups mentioned should be exposed if the whole world learns that they are children for your Exploit purposes. But despite the punishments, there are still child soldiers.

It would be best, of course, to make all wars superfluous and resolve conflicts without violence. Every single one
War that ends will reduce the number of child soldiers. However, as long as this is not the case, children must at least be prevented from becoming soldiers due to starvation and lack of money. It is therefore important to combat poverty effectively in crisis areas.

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Information on AIDS:
AIDS is a serious illness caused by HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). It weakens the body’s own defense system and makes the body defenseless against pathogens that do not bother a healthy person. If HIV / AIDS is not treated, the diseases caused by the weakening of the immune system lead to death.


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Christina Cherry
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