Imagine being involved in physical combat in a war. Now, imagine being forced to fight not only alongside a boy who is only twelve years old but also against boys and girls his age and even younger. Think about being in those children’s places. It is hard to envision being kidnapped and forced into service and being severely punished for any attempts to escape. Thousands upon thousands of children are put through these situations each day. Rebel militias and government groups alike in countries with raging wars are enlisting children as young as eight years old into their armed forces. The magnitude of these numbers may be decreasing but remain a constant threat. A consistent problem occurs with children who feel the need to enlist in an armed forces group to support themselves or their family. Unfortunately, many militaries accept them into their forces despite the child’s age. Once the children are involved, the leaders of their group order them to carry out crimes that no one, let alone children under the age of thirteen, should ever witness or be involved. Even after enduring years of service, assuming they even survive, child soldiers have the most difficult time readjusting to normal life as compared to older fighters. More and more individual people and larger groups are becoming aware of the use of child soldiers globally, though. In the past two decades, multiple support groups have been established and have helped child soldiers demobilize and reintegrate into society. More attention needs to be given to the children who have yet to receive help. The United Nations, along with other human rights groups and individual governments, should increase pressure on governments and rebel forces who recruit child soldiers.
Even though there has been a decrease in the number of child soldiers in the world, there are still many countries that use them. Susanna Kim releases numbers regarding demobilization of child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo in her article from Harvard International Review. As of mid-2005, only a fraction of children who were involved with rebel groups had been demobilized. President Joseph Kabila and his supporters were thinking they would see much larger results when they initiated the process of "disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration" by demobilizing three hundred underage soldiers from the government's armed forces. Unfortunately, there were still seventy-five percent of the child soldiers waiting to be rescued. If the government would have put as much pressure on the rebel forces as they did on their own military, fewer children would still be forced to serve. According to Cynthia G. Wagner's article in The Futurist, the number of wars in which children are supporting the forces either by fighting or performing other tasks for the military force has decreased to seventeen as of 2007. This may be the actual reason why the total number of child soldiers globally has also declined. Though many governments have been increasing the pressure on groups that use child soldiers, the pressure is not enough to make a noticeable impact. In the America article "Numbers Down, but Child Soldiers Remain Global Shame,” the issue of still having high numbers of child soldiers globally is addressed. Even though numbers have gone down, there are still over two hundred thousand children who are fighting in a war worldwide. All of these children are spread out in nearly twenty different countries where even more are being pressured to fight for some cause. Over the past several years, these numbers seem to be declining, but the cause may not be the several anti-child-soldier groups that are doing their part to demobilize and reintegrate soldiers into society. Though these efforts are recognized, the simple reason for the diminished numbers is the fewer number of wars in which the children would need to fight (“Numbers Down…”). Would it really be too much to ask for world peace? It would actually...
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