If you watched 24 last night, I hope you were troubled by the images of the child soldiers in Africa. Unfortunately it’s not just a movie, it’s real life for many children around the world. In the past, most topics on 24 were things that could happen, but things that we didn’t expect to really happen. One reason that I have always liked 24 is that it reminds me of a Tom Clancy novel, lots of technology, terrorism, and action packed into a compelling story. But the storyline from last night left me upset, because I know that it is real. I’m glad that attention is being brought to one of the great Human Rights issues of our time. My hope and prayer is that the church would be the catalyst to eliminate the use of children as soldiers around the world.
How can you make a difference? Check out some more info on child soldiers on World Vision’s website. They list several ways you can help. Below is an excerpt.
The abuse of children as soldiers
According to UNICEF, more than 250,000 children — boys and girls younger than 18 — are involved in armed conflicts worldwide (1); some of these child soldiers are as young as 7.
In the past decade, more than 2 million children have been killed in conflict situations. An estimated 6 million children have been seriously injured or permanently disabled (2).
Children conscripted into military service are forced to become:
- Sex slaves (especially girls)
- Front-line combatants
- Suicide bombers
- Mine sweepers
Where does it occur?In Africa, up to 100,000 children, some as young as 9, were estimated to be involved in armed conflict in mid-2004 (3). Children are also used as soldiers in several Asian countries and parts of Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East. For instance, in 2004, paramilitary and rebel groups in Colombia used an estimated 14,000 girls and boys as child soldiers (4).