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.
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