Children in the military

Child Soldier in the Ivory Coast Gilbert G. Groud, 2007

Children (defined by the Convention on the Rights of the Child as people under the age of 18) have been recruited for participation in military operations and campaigns throughout history and in many cultures.[1] Child soldiers within state armed forces, non-state armed groups, and other military organizations may be trained and used for combat, assigned to support roles such as porters or messengers, or used for tactical advantage as human shields or for political advantage in propaganda.[2][3] For example, thousands of children participated on all sides of the First World War and the Second World War.

Children are easy targets for military recruitment due to their greater susceptibility to influence compared to adults.[4][5][1][6] Some are recruited by force while others choose to join up, often to escape poverty or because they expect military life to offer a rite of passage to maturity.[1][7][8][9][10]

Child recruits who survive armed conflict frequently suffer psychiatric illness, poor literacy and numeracy, and behavioral problems such as heightened aggression, leading to a high risk of poverty and unemployment in adulthood.[11] Research in the UK and US has also found that the enlistment of adolescent children, even when they are not sent to war, is accompanied by a higher risk of attempted suicide,[12][13] stress-related mental disorders,[14][15] alcohol abuse,[16][17] and violent behavior.[18][19][20]

A number of treaties have sought to curb the participation of children in armed conflicts. According to Child Soldiers International these agreements have helped to reduce child recruitment,[21] but the practice remains widespread and children continue to participate in hostilities around the world.[22][23] Some economically powerful nations continue to rely on military recruits aged 16 or 17, and the use of younger children in armed conflict has increased in recent years as militant movements and the groups fighting them recruited children in large numbers.[24]

  1. ^ a b c Wessels, Michael (1997). "Child Soldiers". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. 53 (4): 32. Bibcode:1997BuAtS..53f..32W. doi:10.1080/00963402.1997.11456787.
  2. ^ "Children at war". History Extra. Archived from the original on 12 January 2018. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  3. ^ UNICEF (2007). "The Paris Principles: Principles and guidelines on children associated with armed forces or armed groups" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 30 October 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  4. ^ Cite error: The named reference ReferenceB was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  5. ^ Dave., Grossman (2009). On killing : the psychological cost of learning to kill in war and society (Rev. ed.). New York: Little, Brown and Co. ISBN 9780316040938. OCLC 427757599.
  6. ^ McGurk, Dennis; Cotting, Dave I.; Britt, Thomas W.; Adler, Amy B. (2006). "Joining the ranks: The role of indoctrination in transforming civilians to service members". In Adler, Amy B.; Castro, Carl Andrew; Britt, Thomas W. (eds.). Military life: The psychology of serving in peace and combat. Vol. 2: Operational stress. Westport: Praeger Security International. pp. 13–31. ISBN 978-0275983024.
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  8. ^ Cite error: The named reference :103 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  9. ^ Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers (2008). "Child Soldiers Global Report 2008". Archived from the original on 10 October 2018. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
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  13. ^ UK, Ministry of Defence (2017). "UK armed forces suicide and open verdict deaths: 1984–2017". Retrieved 24 May 2018.
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  22. ^ Child Soldiers International (2012). "Louder than words: An agenda for action to end state use of child soldiers". Archived from the original on 8 March 2019. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  23. ^ Child Soldiers International (2016). "A law unto themselves? Confronting the recruitment of children by armed groups". Archived from the original on 8 March 2019. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  24. ^ Cite error: The named reference :17 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).

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