RHET 120 - Essay 4 - A Violent Childhood Human Development...

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A Violent Childhood: Human Development in Child Soldiers Humanitarian and Mozambican politician Graça Machel once said, “War violates every right of a child: the right to life, the right to be with family and community, the right to health, the right to the development of the personality, and the right to be nurtured and protected . ” When children are associated in an activity such as war, they are being stripped of their God‐given rights as human beings . They are unable to go home to their families, their friends, and their communities . At such a young age, the responsibility of self care is brought upon themselves, as well as developing and maturing on their own . Instead of being educated in schoolhouses, these children are being educated on how to instigate and engage in violence on the battlefield . The practice of child soldiers is detrimental to the development and nourishment of the children that participate in armed conflict . According to the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF), a child soldier is defined as any adolescent‐ boy or girl‐ less than eighteen years of age, who is part of any regular, or irregular, armed force or group . This includes those who are inducted by force, as well as those who join voluntarily . (Kaplan) Although the use of child soldiers is indeed a disturbing characteristic of war, it is not recent or surprising news to anyone . Globally, it has been estimated that as many as 300,000 children under the age of eighteen have served as child soldiers . (Breen) Children are among the most popular weapons that military personnel love to have . The primary reason for the enlistment of child soldiers is that they are considered to be a more economically efficient alternative to
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adult soldiers . They are cost‐free and the supply for these premature militants is endless, whether they choose to join or are forced by abduction . Furthermore, notions of power and masculinity can easily influence their young minds, and in turn may soon become brainwashed due to living in an environment that promotes violence . In concern for the children in war, it is imperative that this unfortunate phenomenon be exposed to show the horrors and devastating consequences yielded from military campaigns associated with youth . Child soldiers have a vast history of being involved in armed conflict . Although this practice has been the topic of discussion as of recent, the recruitment of child militants first gained worldwide attention after the Second World War started in 1939 . The idea of using children as military machines first became recognized from German tactics . In particular, the militarization of Germany was seen with the conscription of Hitlerjugend youth movements (in 1945, officially enrolled in the armed forces from the age of 16 years upward) .
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  • Spring '11
  • SULLIVAN
  • World War II, Armed forces, child soldiers

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