If I could un-invent one thing, it would be the availability of small arms and light weapons. This type of military hardware may be a predictive indicator of the potential for child soldiering. The connection has yet to be definitively proven and it is unlikely that we could ever say one way or the other, but the impact of the use of children as a strategic military tool could be lessened by the absence of such weapons.
Think about it – a child simply does not have the physical strength to cart around a full-sized weapon.
I urge you to visit the Child Soldiers Initiative website.
This organization was founded by retired lieutenant-general and celebrated humanitarian Roméo Dallaire. It is a global partnership committed to ending the use and recruitment of child soldiers worldwide.
There is so much valuable information on this site, including a trailer for Dallaire’s new film, Fight Like Soldiers, Die Like Children, based on his 2010 book of the same name that was launched at the Amsterdam Docs festival.
“Children are used because they are considered expendable, plentiful, cheap to maintain and easily indoctrinated by the adults who recruit them. They are used as a strategic military tool—a weapons system—to advance the interests of persistent human rights violators.” (Daillaire)
Daillarie himself speaks quite eloquently to this issue – check out this YouTube interview he did with Allen Gregg for TV Ontario.
You could also check out this recent (Nov. 2012) op-ed piece in the Toronto Star – Protect children from military press gangs.
Dallaire’s voice is invaluable in the initiative to stop the use of child soldiers because he is known as not only a humanitarian, but also as a tried and true veteran of a military conflict where he personally faced a gun pointed at him by a child. He speaks to NGOs, governments and the military in a language they can all understand.
“For soldiers with any sense of honour at all, fighting children offers a no-win situation. To be defeated by children would almost certainly bring death, derision and disgrace, while to win would carry the taint of having killed mere children.” (Dallaire)
For the complete story of Dallaire’s experiences in Rwanda please read his book – Shake Hands with the Devil.
Bruce and I have seen Dallaire speak and we have read his books. I urge you to give some time to checking into the information available on child soldiers. When you become aware of the breadth and scope of the problem, the human suffering and anguish, I do not believe you will be unmoved.