In a report published by UNICEF (United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund) it states that there are around 300,000 child soldiers, participating in over 30 different conflicts worldwide. Of these 300,000, 120,000 are serving in different countries in Africa. One of the countries where this issue has been extremely prevalent is Sierra Leone, where child soldiers made up a significant part of the armed forces during its 11-year civil war, with 10,000 out of about 50,000 soldiers being children. Accounts of child soldiers in Sierra Leone have been made, with both the book A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier and the movie Ezra telling the story of a Sierra Leonean child soldier. Even though both the book A Long Way Gone by Ishmael
This led to “occasional dangerous physical assaults on one another or even staff at the school” (United States, National). When reintegrated into normal society without treatment, the child soldiers reverted back to their only way of living, which was in the brain-washed state of constant warfare. Even when medically checked over, the Gulu Regional Referral Hospital wrote them off as “possessed demons”, failing to recognize the implications of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Outdated and ineffective programs brush aside the traumas of war and write them off as mentally deranged, which would further isolate the once child soldiers from society and cause them to deal with the repercussions of PTSD, depression, anxiety, etc. alone. This is why the United States should set up rehabilitation centers, allowing the large percentage of child soldiers to find solace and return to normalcy, preventing from slipping back into the travesties of war and to not pose a threat to society.
On a historic level, I learned about the civil war in Sierra Leone in the 1990’s. The war was fought between the rebels and the government and lasted for over a decade. Numerous attacks on civilians caused many to die, especially parents and families. During this time, orphaned child soldiers were commonly used to fight in the war. Ishmael’s personal history describes these attacks. He describes family members being separated and killed, bodies of the dead, lost children, and a constant state of fear. “The sound of guns was so terrifying that it confused everyone. No one was able to think clearly... Everyone just ran for his or her life. Mothers lost their children, whose confused, sad cries
Imagine having to fight in a war you don’t want to fight in, seeing friends and family die all around you, but no matter how far you run you can never escape. Child soldiers in Sierra Leone do not have to imagine this - for them, it is reality. Ishmael Beah, who became a soldier at just age 12, as well as researchers such as Christophe Bayer, Fionna Klasen, Hubertus Adam know too well that the events in the war can never be forgotten. The story Beah told in his memoir A Long Way Gone captures the inhumane events that take place in Sierra Leone and tells of a story that many children have to endure. Sources like Harvard claim “among the 87 war-torn countries...300,000 - 500,000 children are involved with fighting forces as child soldiers.” Many of those children are being forced into the war without any choice at all and having to kill others as well. With this information we’re forced to ask the question: how are these children being affected by the war?
The change in Sierra Leone culture is one of the first consequences of war seen in the story. Throughout the civil war the rebels (RUF) recruited or forced many children to become soldiers. In order to get these children they would raid villages and then draft the strongest ones. They would then tell the children that they would not need their families
No one wants their childhood to be utterly destroyed or have their family taken away from them in the blink of an eye, without the chance to even say one last goodbye. The odd chance of that happening to us, here in America, is slim to none. In Sierra Leone on the other hand, along with many other parts of Africa, child soldiers are being put to use in armies. In A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah, the recruitment of child soldiers, African living situations, and the psychological trauma endured by the children deals with the issue of child soldiers.
Recently, two million children have died over the past ten years due to becoming a child soldier. A huge deplorable development that has extended recently is the increase of child soldiers. Children are constantly being used as soldiers for various reasons. In some countries, there are more child soldiers than they are adults because children are more compliant. Children have been exploited as soldiers because they are being recruited to do a violent action, it is difficult for them to, later on, assimilate back to their lives, and child soldiers are regularly used in developing countries.
War, in and of itself, is an atrocity, but it becomes even more abhorrent when children are pulled into the conflict. Unfortunately, some military groups find children useful in the war effort. The wars these children are forced to be part of often leave wounds--both psychological and physical, but these kids can be healed, at least to an extent, and rehabilitated. Children are often used in war because it is easy and efficient to use them as compared to their adult counterparts. For one, children are easy to control, coerce, and indoctrinate.
On March 23rd, 1991, a civil war started between the Sierra Leonean Government and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). This war had an enormous impact on everyone in and around the country, especially young civilian boys who were taken from their families and homes to become child soldiers. One of these former government soldiers is Ishmael Beah, who was brought into this battle between powers at only 13 years old. Throughout his lifetime, he has had to confront many challenges and conflicts, most of which can be found in his memoir, “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier.” After reading his memoir, I have gained much knowledge on the topic of both the Sierra Leone Civil War and the issue of children becoming soldiers. The themes of this
What are child soldiers? Child soldiers are people under eighteen who partake in either a regular or irregular armed group in any way. According to Warchild there are an estimated 250,000 child soldiers in the world and often as a part of their recruitment they are forced to either kill or maim a loved one so that they cannot go back home. In Ishmael Beah’s novel A Long Way Gone (Memoirs of a Boy Soldier) the author recounts his life as a child soldier fighting on the government side in Sierra Leone from age thirteen to sixteen. This paper will be attempting to answer the questions of why certain armed groups use children, why it is wrong to do so, and how people are taking a stand to stop it.
It’s estimated 300,000 child soldiers are still in the world today in at least twenty countries. Sierra Leone was just one of them. Forcing AK-47’s on children in the midst of war (1991-2002.) Adults once forced to be a child soldiers still have vivid, traumatic memories from their brainwashed childhood. They have their innocent childhoods taken away from being on the front lines of combat & have to grieve for the separation from their family. It’s key for everyone to understand what children are going through in other countries not as fortunate as yours.
These are the words of a 15-year-old girl in Uganda. Like her, there are an estimated 300,000 children under the age of eighteen who are serving as child soldiers in about thirty-six conflict zones (Shaikh). Life on the front lines often brings children face to face with the horrors of war. Too many children have personally experienced or witnessed physical violence, including executions, death squad killings, disappearances, torture, arrest, sexual abuse, bombings, forced displacement, destruction of home, and massacres. Over the past ten years,
Since they are forced to leave their homes, kids miss out on getting an education, spending time with family, making friends, and enjoying peaceful, carefree lives. Being recruited into war changes their childhood forever. They live in fear of getting killed or harmed, and have to murder other people themselves. If they don’t, they risk getting shot or abused by commanders. An article on hrw.org (2004) states that many children are “victims of killings, rape and sexual assault, abduction, torture, forced labor and displacement at the hands of the warring factions.” This reveals that when children are forced into war, they no longer get to enjoy the fun and simple childhood everyone deserves. Rather, they must live up to adult responsibilities and perform abhorrent crimes. In addition, these children are often given many drugs to make them more inclined to kill. An article on vision.org (2008) talks about a child soldier rehabilitation camp director that has reported that kids “would do just about anything that was ordered” while on drugs. The use of drugs in young people dangerously affects their overall health and alters their minds substantially. Also, Child Soldiers International notes that child soldiers “run a high risk of being killed or maimed.” This clearly describes the health and future of these children as they are forced into war. As can be seen, recruiting kids into war negatively affects their physical state and their
Once they are recruited they are filled with drugs that alter their brains into making them believe that what they are doing is the right thing to do. The author of Child Soldiers, Prosecution indicates that the commanders of child soldiers drug the children to brainwash them. “The recruiters of child soldiers also use drugs and alcohol to make children more compliant and enable them to commit acts they would not ordinarily commit. ”(10) In a later paragraph of Child Soldiers, Prosecution the author writes “Once children are recruited into the military it is also difficult for them to leave because they become dependent
Children recruited into the armed forces in these countries are forced by their commanders to commit atrocities against other soldiers and villagers. They may also suffer through punishments themselves. Commanders have been known to force their child recruits to witness and/or commit abuses against their own families or captured prisoners (“Coercion and Intimidation of Child Soldiers to Participate in Violence” 1). For instance, child soldiers recruited into Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army have been forced to tie their parents to trees and club them to death or be killed themselves (Taylor 1). Physical