Child Soldiers The Full Picture First stereotype All children take part in active combat. Child Soldiers Not the whole story… Not all children are engaged in active combat. What else are children used for by fighting forces? • As porters - carrying • As cooks • As spies or decoys. • As wives and mothers • As sex slaves Second Stereotype All Children are fighting for Rebel Groups only Not the whole story… Government Forces too Rebel groups use child soldiers often to fight the government. Governments use child soldiers in armed conflict. Some countries actively recruit children as young as 7. There are an estimated 300,000 child soldiers. Countries Where Child Soldiers Exist Today » Country Country • Who is Recruiting Est. Numbers Burma Burma’s National Army 70,000 Sri Lanka Rebel Forces 6,000 Iraq Insurgent groups Unknown Afghanistan Taliban Militias Unknown Colombia Guerrilla Forces 14,000 DRC Government and Rebel Forces 30,000 Third Stereotype All child soldiers are abducted or forced into conflicts. Abducted or forced conscription Not the whole story… Some children are recruited voluntarily. Why join? • • • • • Paid Promises of a better life. Revenge Prestige/ honour No other choice. Why abduct children? • Easier to brainwash • Easier to coerce • Torments local community • Dispensable. Fourth stereotype All child soldiers are boys. Just boys Not the whole story… Many girls too 40% of all child soldiers are female. Life for girls particularly hard because of the shame attached to what happens to them. They often find it difficult if they do return to their communities because they are less visible they often get ignored after the conflict. Fifth stereotype All Child Soldiers Kill. Everyone kills Not the whole story… It varies from conflict to conflict But all of the children are likely to suffer trauma and abuse. They have to deal with malnutrition and exposure to drug taking. Violence is a part of their daily life, they are often forced to kill and will see and be forced to do horrific things. Pros and cons • Sense of belonging • Status and power • Livelihood • Ostracised from family and community • Exposure to violence • A life that involves drug taking and abuse.