Between 1945 and 1996, there were over 250 major wars, killing more than 23 million people. On an average yearly basis, the number of war deaths in this period was more than double the deaths in the 19th century, and seven times greater than in the 18th century.
political upheaval have been tearing whole countries apart - from
Children have, of course, always been caught up in warfare and the trauma of exposure to violence and brutal death has emotionally affected generations of young people for the rest 121f56b of their lives. Recent developments in warfare however have significantly heightened the dangers for children. During the last decade, it is estimated that child victims have included:
2 million killed
4-5 million disabled
12 million left homeless
more than 1 million orphaned or separated from their
some 10 million psychologically traumatised
casualties are civilians. But one of the most deplorable developments in recent
years has been the increasing use of young children as soldiers. In one sense,
this is not really new. For centuries children have been involved in military
campaigns - as child ratings on warships, or as drummer boys on the
What is frightening nowadays is the escalation in the use of children as fighters. Recently, in 25 countries, thousands of children under the age of 16 have fought in wars. In 1988 alone, they numbered as many as 200.000.
There are a few reasons for this. First of all, the phenomenon has been increasing so much because the nature of the conflict has changed: nowadays the wars fought are prevalently the ethnic, religious and nationalist ones: children are seen as enemies just as the rest of the people they belong to, and the governments think that becouse they are enemies for the others, they can and must fight.
Secondly, many current disputes have lasted a generation or more, and long-drawn-out conflicts requires more and more soldiers day by day: in this sense, children become a valued resource.
Finally, there is the proliferation of light weapons. In the past, children were not particularly effective as front-line fighters since most of the lethal hardware was too heavy and cumbersome for them to manipulate. A child might have been able to wield a sword or a machete but was no match for a similarly armed adult.
However, a child with an assault rifle, a kalashnikov, a Soviet-made AK-47 or an American M-16, is a fearsome match for anyone. These weapons are very simple to use. The AK-47 can be stripped and reassembled by a child of 10. The rifles have also become a much cheaper and more widely available - having few moving parts they are extremely durable and have steadily accumulated in war zones.
Since their introduction in 1947, around 55 million AK-47s have been sold; in one African country, for example, they cost no more than US$6 each. The M-16 is just as ubiquitous, and has been described by one military historian as the "transistor radio of modern warfare".
Besides being able to use lethal weapons, children have other advantages as soldiers. They are easier to intimidate and they do as they are told. They are also less likely than adults to run away and they do not demand salaries. Sometimes child soldiers are used to "clear of mines",it means that they are sent ahead along a suspicious territory and when they survive, these fighters remain disabled for the whole life.
The harshness of military life joins with abuses, violence and cruelty that mark indeliblely the children's soul.
We usually hear about African children used as soldiers, because of the unending re-exploding of the conflicts. But this social evil hits also the other continents, where the endemic poverty is the main carrier of war.
only, the young children kidnapped and transformed into soldiers are about
120.000 and sometimes as happens in
This is a well-known thing, that many commanders drug the baby-soldiers to make their courage increase: hashish, cocaine, amphetamine and gunpowder are mixed with rice and milk.
The downfall children are brought to, do not concerns them only; as many child soldiers there are, all the more damages in the whole society are serious. Children who have grown up surrounded by violence see this as a permanent way of life: banditry, kidnappings, rapes and violence, drugs abuse, smuggling are the future of those people who learnt from the childhood that a rifle is a mean of subsistence, and weapons enable you to achieve whatever you want. Also, children will have lost any chance of education and professional training.
The recognition that children should be protected from the effects of war is not new. Indeed there are instruments of protection which currently exist. At the base there are the human rights laws which together form a minimum standard of provisions.
organisations have also concentrated on providing social rehabilitation
assistance to children. In
It is well known, that providing for a peaceful future for children requires more than merely stopping the current armed conflicts. It requires educating, or perhaps better said, convincing a whole generation of the necessity to settle their disputes peacefully.
Some people think that the war education is all inside our society; the "civilised" countries are not excluded in the use of minor soldiers: the negative record is Great Britain's: there are almost 4500 boys younger than 15 involved in military activities, and this, although they are not allowed to drink, to vote -and they also cannot join the police force!-; Italy, which prohibit the use of under18s soldiers together with almost every European and United States countries, has been selling a huge number of weapons to Kosovo in the last conflicts. Since the childhood, we are used to think that only a fight can make a quarrel up. In the tv movies disagreements are usually terminated by violence, and dialogue does not acknowledge the duality of human nature. The bad guys are usually foreign-sounding or faceless, and women are generally portrayed in subservient roles. Much of this can teach children to behave in dehumanised, aggressive and warlike ways and to values physical strenght, power and violence.
there are opposite values: in
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