While a normal child enjoys dinner with family in his peaceful house, there are plenty of others at the same age leaning their bodies on the ground aiming guns at enemies. The fact that in many countries, children are being used as soldiers has raised great criticism and consideration. The problem is extremely severe in developing countries especially Africa where children constitute half of the population and have to contend with serious matters such as violence, hunger or political instability.
“ At night, when I was still asleep, something was happening in the front house. With the eyes half open, I saw my parents were killed by those with guns and knives. No where to go, my only choice is to join them since that’s the only source of food “. This is told by a child-aged soldier about how he and others are forced to join the army.
According to some reports, more than 250.000 children act combat fighting in Africa long-running civil wars. Child soldiers are usually recruited because not enough adults are available due to the fact that most of them are dead of war. These child- recruited are physically tortured, sexually abused or not given enough food. After being abducted from homes, they are initially moved into special training camps where they are taught how to kill instead of how to do math exercises. The children are told they would be killed if trying to escape or disobeying orders from superiors. But hell does not come yet. These children are subjected to severe punishment if they do not complete the “ training” or have to undergo cruel tortures. More shocking, girls at the age of 13 are kidnapped and presented as “ reward” for boys who kill the most in a battle.
With the development of light lethal weapons such as AK-47, it is possible for boys as young as 13 to 15 to be fully armed. The smallest soldier means the closest approach to the enemies. In a combat, kids are believed to be fearless. These young guys are easily trained to kill softly and emotionlessly. They are too young to realize what are they getting involved in and see the risk of losing lives coming every moment. In some camps, kid soldiers are usually forced to use drugs or alcohol with the belief that these can make them stronger and invincible. That’s the reason why they cannot quit since only the leaders who can provide them with these dopes. There are some who managed to escape but are not be able to return home because they had before killed or slaughtered in their own villages.
Child soldiers may suffer from many of the same physical or psychological matters that war brings to noncombatant kids. They are separated from normal childhood life and exposed to destructive violence. Health care for wounded children is often problematic. In most countries where child soldiers are found, health care is worse than imagined. Those children who are seriously wounded often left on the battlefield. The only available medicines in the areas are herbal. The most frequent injuries suffered by child soldiers are blindness, loss of hearing or losing body parts. This is resulted from children being used as scout or mine detector, rockets or AK-47s. Perhaps the most severe long -term consequences of children serving as soldiers may be on their moral development. It is difficult to place these kids back to their families or schools. Their moral system is dominated by fear of violence from whomever is superior in the hierarchy. Some as young age may be obsessed from killing scenes or spreading blood for the rest of their life.
The process of rehabilitation of child soldiers has been carried out by UNICEF for years but not specific results appeared. Both goverment and rebel group have continued to recruit more and more children. There are projects that help to bring back those kids to normal life, however, just only a small number of children can make their way to these camps.
No one knows when it’s going to stop, let’s just hope every child soldiers in the world will be given more pens not guns.
Ho va ten : LE NGUYEN MINH HOANG
Ma So: BAWE09267