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.

Works cited:


Ma So: BAWE09267


6 responses to “GUNS OR PENS ?

  1. La T. Khoát

    Interesting topic!
    I want to ask some questions about the process of rehabilitation:

    1. Retraining them may be one of the ideas, but can a person forget the things, the habits which “help” them to survive (kill or to be killed) that they have learnt since child ages? If not, so should we send them to public schools after retraining them?

    2. What would happen, you think, if we bring those child soldiers back to public schools? These children were trained to kill, to use violence to win their life. Children are the ones at the age of expecting winning. They see their friends got a toy, they do want to have it. The normal children may just cry, but the used-to-be-soldier ones may hurt (or kill) their friends to win those toys.

    3. Hope you still remember the problem of HIV children want to go to public schools. If you were the parents of pupils studying at the school who received the child soldiers, would you let your children keep going to such school?!

    These are some critical questions for you, hope you can understand more about what you have written!

    Good job.


    Sorry for long responding, I have trouble logging in the blog. First of all, I really appreciate your comment on my topic.
    As we all know, children who recruited to join the army are subjected to. They originally miss an important part of their life growing up normally or basically-educated. This leads to the fact they apparently lack of basic human skills or behaviors. Thus, the job of bringing these children totally fit in the society may seem difficult or else impossible. The process of rehabilitation I am mentioning here is not sending to them to public school but SPECIAL TRAINING CAMP. These camps often run by international organization with the purpose of providing these kids with human basic knowledge and social behaviour. Theses young guys will also be taught letters and numbers as well as a new environment in which can somehow wipe away the pictures that obsessed their minds for years. As far as I’m concerned the number of formal or public school in Africa is very small, even normal children may have little chance of attending these school. In countries like South Africa or Egypt, there are even separated schools for black and white kids. These facts sum that we can’t immediately put these, like you said, used-to-be -soldier right back to normal social life. Moreover, if these children are taught how to protect themselves and care about personal hygiene, the possibility of being target for HIV or AIDS will be reduced. In addition, children soldiers that can make way to retraining camp are both originated from the same situation so the risk of danger to normal kids could be avoidable and after training, their killing instinct may disappear and they will not become national threat. Talking about future life, vocational skills such as carpenter or mechanic could be useful when they are completely back to the community.

    That’s all I got, hope that it will satisfy you in some way. It would be great if we can have chance to talk about this more.


    ….subjected to struggle getting back to society

  4. La T. Khoát

    Well done.

    The question (and your answer) is just to show how you understand your topic. I think that you did it in a very honest way. Congratulation!

    Oh, forgot something… I’m not your classmate. I’m a friend of your TA. She introduced me this blog. Thank to this blog that I’ve found many interesting writing, including yours.

  5. Thank you for the post, Hoang! Very interesting topic.

    In your post, you cited one of the many reasons that these children join the army is food and perhaps seeking shelter since they are orphaned, lacked of family’s protection, etc. In your opinion, what could be done at this stage to keep them from entering the army?

    What happens after special trainning camp? Any follow-up solutions for these youngsters to reengage into society without discrimination for what they done in the past?

    Thanks Khoat for stopping by our class blog.

  6. Grant Wadyabere: Human Nature-Laws-And-Democratic-Governability

    Human Nature-Laws- and-Democratic Governability

    Human beings are born equaly, with nothing special but only flesh and life. Criminals are not born but made. Through socialisation and life experience one will select his/her favourites. As we face different life experiences, automatically, we cannot hath the same favourites. However, in each and every society there are rules, laws and customs which all inhabitants are expected to observe. A reasonable person may sacrifise his/her fovourites so as to follow these rules, laws and customs. What if i choose to safeguard my favourites? Blatantly, i will be labeled a criminal. Why? There is no way, under the sun one can enjoy all his/her pleasures without compromising rights of others. So I say, laws deduct our rights to bring about uniformity among the people of a particular society.

    Who make laws? Obviously not the general public. Why? For what benefit do they limit their ‘right-to -anything’, those in hierachies of power are the ones who make them for easy governability. But there are referadums, Sir Wadyabere? Ok, in short we say generally regiment the people participate in referandums, but only a few amalgamate the views and not more than five people veto the law. Are these people value free? Absolutelly nay!

    Representative democracy entails all this. Yes due to population increase we cannot have all of us in the perliament bebating laws. But the fact remains, you are you and Im me. So how can it be that you act as ‘we’ of which among ‘we’ each and every individual has his/her Ps and Qs. Drawing lines from this fact, the world’s inhabitants needs only to be considerate and compromise their ‘right-to-everything. Failure to do so you are a criminal.

    Myriad the people are of the view that criminals are born not made. I Grant Wadyabere, I therefore say that is a blatant mandaysious. Why? A marijuanna smoker in Zimbabwe is a criminal but that very same individual is the opposite in Jamaica. Doing what is prohibited by the laws of the society is a crime, and anyone caught doing so is a criminal. Because of that a criminal is a saint born in rather society. If you are a gay born is Zimbabwe, I say you were born in wrong society, ‘WE HATE IT’. If you are a gay born in America I say you were born in your correct society. This explaints the question, ‘Are criminals born or made?’

    Allow me to engage the issue of democracy. What is democracy? And, Who benefits? I and myself we are strage to this concept, maybe because it does not exist or we see it but dont know it. I saw one of my friend’s assignments it explained a lot about democracy, but i grasped only that it is the reduction of government’s power and annex it to the general public. Maybe im wrong. Is it what you wanted to say Tawonga? If yes, then I say democracy is nothing. As it seem to be, the government is becoming a subject to the general public. That is the correct and shortest way to anarchy just increase speed it will not take you even a decade. As I understand, the signficance of the government is to develop, monitor, protect and regulate the povo. Do you agree? If yes, then in which category do you want to deduct power of the government? I know, you want to reduce power to regulate. So that we will be able to behave as we please? Is not that anarchy? I dont know.

    Thanks to the Almighty Father the Creater of the Universe, Lord God our Servior who afforded me the bravado to confront reality- I fearlessly say liberal democracy is the way to anarchy. Once fully employed, liberal democracy requires no government. All the rights, freedoms and behaviours prohibited by the government, just wait for the pick of liberal democracy you will enjoy them. If i will be the only powerful individual i would like anarchy today. There will be survival of the fittest, however im not one of them mmmmmmm lets avoid it.

    Get me correctly good people, Im not agitating for tyranny, Im not for dictatorship, Im not for slavery, Im not for war or something haineous. I like fair treatment of citizens by the government for the longterm betterment of our survival. The government must not be so powerful or so powerless. The government must be granted powers little more than the general public possess for easy governability. Dont allow people to have much power, I say dont allow the general public to have too much power. Reducing the operational avenues of government reduces its functionability.

    Humans hath right to life, according to my perspective, the suprime right. All other rights and freedoms must be fullfilled without compromising power of the government. If every individual is to enjoy all his/her right fully there will be a first class catastophy of mankind. Survival of the strongest.

    It was wrong for Adam and Eve to eat from the prohibited tree, it was wrong for Cain to murder Abel, it was wrong for Moses to strike the stone twice. The law was in the heart, we all know Good and Dad, DO GOOD

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