Images determine our life. We see pictures of war and destruction on TV almost every day. Most people have never experienced war before and therefore use the information in the media to get an idea of war.
But what exactly do we see there? What is war and how does it come about? We want to answer these questions in more detail here.
What is war?
In a war, at least two armed groups face each other. The enemy groups fight each other with weapons, for example with rifles, tanks or fighter planes. Usually entire houses, streets and cities are destroyed. Although the soldiers of the groups actually fight each other in a war, the civilian population in particular suffers. The civilian population means people who are not part of the army. In earlier centuries war was waged with firearms, rifles and cannons. Today, many countries have weapons of mass destruction. With these weapons you can not only kill people, but also make the whole world uninhabitable for a long time. Everyone hopes, however, that these weapons will never be used in war, but unfortunately that cannot be said with certainty. There has been an international agreement since 1864, the so-called Geneva Conventions. This agreement consists of rules for the protection of civilians in the event of war.
Why is there war?
A war arises when, for example, the representatives of two countries no longer together talk to resolve their dispute in a peaceful way. Because wars are so cruel and violence is not a solution, states should always try to resolve a dispute peacefully, for example by negotiating and compromising. This is also called diplomatic solution to differences of opinion. There are different reasons for war and therefore different types of war. There are, for example, wars of aggression or wars of defense, wars of conquest, liberation, world, faith or civil. In civil wars, only ethnic groups within one country fight each other. In contrast, whole connections between hostile countries stand in a world war. In the past there were two world wars in which many countries around the world took part, including Germany. Germany in particular started World War II.
War – (K) An end in sight?
Today there are still many wars worldwide, in total in more than 20 countries around the world. One example is Syria, where two groups have been fighting in a civil war within the country since early 2011. There are also wars that have been waged for almost 50 years, for example in Indonesia (Papua War). Even though there have been and still are many wars, most have found a peaceful ending. Violence is not a solution to a dispute or disagreement. The many hostile groups also saw this and made peace. Germany and France are examples of the end of hostility. The two neighboring countries fought for a long time in wars until they finally became friends. Today Germany and France work closely together.
Consequences of war
Wars, no matter why they are waged, always have terrible consequences for people, the environment, politics and the economy. War has particularly tragic consequences for the population, as many people are injured or killed, and family members and friends lose. The survivors often suffer for decades from the terrible experiences of fear of death, hunger, torture and loss of family and friends. War also has a negative impact on a country’s economy. In addition to the environment, roads, industrial plants or power supplies are often destroyed during a war. This threatens unemployment and poverty.
Children as soldiers
In some countries in the world not only adults fight in a war, but also children and young people. These children and adolescents under the age of 18 are known as child soldiers. Since 2002, the International Convention on the Rights of the Child has prohibited children and adolescents from fighting in wars. Despite the ban, not all countries adhere to it. There are still an estimated 250,000 child soldiers worldwide. Most of them fight in Africa, for example in the Congo, Nepal and Sudan. For the most part, the child soldiers are orphans (i.e. children whose parents have died) or very poor street children. They do not know where to go in their misery and join the military groups because they see the only way out of poverty there. The prospect of Essen voluntarily attracts many to an army. Other children are also involuntarily captured and forced to fight. In the army, child soldiers are forced to keep watch, carry heavy provisions or use weapons to kill other people during wars. On the one hand, these children are perpetrators because they kill other people. On the other hand, they are at the same time defenseless victims who are forced to do cruel acts by the military groups. These children do not know a life with everyday school life and free time with friends. By the way, working as a child soldier is seen as an extreme form of child labor and is therefore a serious violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
War in the media – information only?
If you turn on the television today, you’re bound to be confronted with war news from around the world. With their war reports, the media pursue the goal of keeping people all over the world informed of the latest events. Newspaper agencies and television stations are in competition with each other and fight for most readers and viewers. For this reason, they often try to captivate people for as long as possible with exciting war reports. Some media therefore do not simply portray war realistically, but stage it. For example, the causes of war and difficult relationships are shown in a simplified manner, special dramatic images are chosen and strong emphasis is given to who is good and who is bad. In real war, however, all of these relationships are often much more complicated. The media want to awaken feelings in viewers and readers through these depictions of war. So they should be captivated by the contributions for as long as possible. At the same time, less emphasis is placed on proper reporting. So instead of reporting on the causes and backgrounds of a conflict, for example, daily bombing raids on cities and their desperate inhabitants are put on display. In addition, people sometimes try to portray violence and suffering as impressive or even beautiful, for example through pictures of the destruction of a city at sunset. As a viewer, you should therefore always critically question reports and find out about the background of wars and conflicts.
Depending on how independently certain media (television, radio, newspapers, etc.) work, they sometimes not only want to inform, but also to support a certain opinion about a war. In this case, you only send or print selected images and texts that are only intended to convey a certain view of things to the viewer. This happens, for example, when the media in a state want to justify its participation in a war. They then represent the war in such a way that it appears justified for the people of their own state.
War on children’s news
In addition to news and newspaper reports, there are also special children’s news items that provide children with understandable information about current events – including the war. The children’s programs take their young viewers seriously and provide them with the background to a war in order to understand the cause of the conflict. This explanation of an event (such as war) is often more important in children’s news than the news value of a message. Children’s news tries to take into account that many war reports can also be frightening. Children will not see any bad images of war in children’s news that they will have to fear for a long time afterwards. In addition, no good position is conveyed in good children’s news, but tries to depict all problems related to the war – regardless of who is involved in the war. Often there are also non-violent solutions in children’s news presented, give suggestions for dealing with violence.
- How do you imagine war??
- How can you prevent wars? What do you think about using child soldiers? Would you support that in Germany??
- Do you feel safe in Germany from war??
- Have your parents or grandparents seen a war before??
- How should war be shown?
- How do you experience the portrayal of war on the news? Should there be special children’s news?
- What feelings do you feel when you think of war? Or have you had your own experience with war??
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