For most kids, childhood is a time of playing, learning, and
making friends. But in more than 20 countries, thousands of kids
serve as soldiers on the front lines of brutal conflicts.
Child soldiers serve as human mine detectors, messengers, spies,
sex slaves, and combatants toting AK-47s and M-16s. Many of them
have been kidnapped and forced into service; some join out of
desperation. There are about 300,000 child soldiers worldwide,
human rights groups say, and for the most part their plight has
received little attention around the world. That changed in 2007
with the publication of "Long Way Gone," a best-selling
memoir by former child soldier Ishmael Beah that tells how he was
orphaned, drugged, indoctrinated, and forced to slaughter prisoners
by government forces in Sierra Leone's civil war.
What to Watch:
Experts say that kids continue to be conscripted as soldiers,
especially in Africa, in conflicts that resemble organized plunder
more than ideological struggle, making it difficult for warlords to
inspire the allegiance of adults. That makes children - loyal,
easily manipulated, and in great supply - better recruits. The
recent spotlight on child soldiers has helped create more
awareness, but the exploitation of children in war is far from
over. What remains to be seen is how far the civilized world will
go to end this practice.
Worrying About War
Why I Give: Freddi's Story
When Loved Ones Go to War
How to Talk to Your Child About the News
Getting Kids to Give: Lynda's Story
When a Parent Goes to War
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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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