The number of child soldiers in the world has been on the rise since 1988. In developing countries, children as young as 7 are given weapons and are forced to fight. These children are also used to cook, lay explosives, and are sexually abused.
Most child soldiers have been orphaned, and join the military looking for a second family.
The army can seem like the best way for children to survive. They sign up looking for food and protection.
Poverty can drive parents to offer their own children to the war. Young boys and girls are thrown into this violent lifestyle, hoping for a few extra meals for their families.
Often, armed groups pass through villages and forcibly “recruit” children, taking them away from their homes.
Sometimes, children volunteer because they identify with the beliefs, causes, or determination of the army.
Countries’ use child soldiers because children are easily intimidated. The military can bend these children to its will, and the kids do as told.
These militaries benefit from child soldiers because they last longer. Children can fight in the army for over 20 years before they are released.
Many children are told that their parents, siblings, or themselves will be killed if they refuse to join the army.
Children may volunteer to avenge the death of a relative or friend.
Some girl soldiers join the army to escape abuse, domestic violence, or forced marriages.
In some countries, children are told that if they join the army, they will gain magical powers that protect them from enemy bullets.