Abduction of Innocence Though Adults Term Paper

Pages: 10 (3226 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Children

Abduction of Innocence

Though adults, particularly those in western cultures, would like to believe children partaking in the activities of war is a new phenomenon, in fact the opposite is true. Children have been involved in conflicts and war for decades, if not centuries. World War I, II, the Korean War, Vietnam, just to name a few, have all involved children in some aspect. Traditionally, international humanitarian law purported to protect children and other specific groups. Sadly, adults have been making promises to keep children safe throughout each of those periods. More than fifty years ago in 1959, the Preamble to the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child began "Whereas mankind owes to the child the best it has to give…"(Mann, 1987, p. 32).

What may be different today is that children are on the frontlines as never before. Conflicts, war, and the growth of terrorism are all contributing to the traumazation of children. Adults in many parts of the world think nothing of kidnapping, torturing, or raping children for their own gain. Even the act of strapping a bomb to a child to further a cause elicits little more than a blink from their would-be tormentors. From all evidence available it appears that statements to protect children from the trauma of war have been nothing more than empty promises. Without serious intervention looking forward it is difficult to imagine the future any brighter as those who are children now grow into adults and continue the cycle of violence.

Child Soldiers Defined

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TOPIC: Term Paper on Abduction of Innocence Though Adults, Particularly Those Assignment

UNICEF defines a child soldier as any person under 18 years of age who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but not limited to cooks, porters, messengers and anyone accompanying such groups, other than family members. The definition includes girls recruited for sexual purposes and for forced marriage. It does not, therefore, only refer to a child who is carrying or has carried arms (n.d.). Most nations agree that a child is defined as anyone under the age of 18, although some do drop that limit to 16 years of age. All agree that anyone actively engaging in a war or conflict as a member of a group or taking an ideological position is to be considered a soldier, no matter the person's age.

The number of children participating in war continues to grow with each passing year. In 2002 there were an estimated 300,000 children actively participating in 36 ongoing or recently ended conflicts in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Americas, and the former Soviet Union (Dickson-Gomez, 2002, p. 327). Most of these wars occur in developing nations where resources are very limited but poverty and illiteracy are in abundance. In environments such as these always vulnerable children are particularly susceptible to the use of forced recruitment. They may become separated from family members when fleeing from their homes, or parents or caretakers may be killed, leaving children alone and unprotected. Extreme poverty may lead other children to join for economic benefits to their families. Still others are kidnapped from their homes and forced to fight (Dickson-Gomez, 2002, p. 328).

Where they are located

Wherever a war breaks out children can be found participating in the battle. They have been used in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Columbia. In Afghanistan the Taliban is not above using children and Osama bin Laden and his followers regularly hide behind the use of women and children as weapons of destruction, but it appears that the vast majority of children being used as soldiers of war are located in Africa. Children are often forcibly taken from their families or made to watch as their families are slaughtered. Some are made to kill their own family members or face death themselves.

In northern Uganda, tens of thousands of children have lived their entire lives under the threat of the Lord's Resistance Army. The LRA, have kidnapped an estimated 30,000 children, systematically brutalizing and brainwashing them, then using them as soldiers, laborers or sex slaves (Amber, 2004).

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Stories and images of carnage grace every aspect of media in most developed nations. Not a day goes by that millions of adults and young people are not subjected to graphic input everywhere they look. Such bombardment often leads to desensitization in the human psyche.

Humanitarian organizations quite often use these images to push forward their agenda that children should be protected from such atrocities. The humanitarian case, which is one facet of the general effort to abolish war, rests on three basic assumptions: that modern warfare is especially aberrant and cruel; that the worldwide glut of light-weight weapons makes it easier than in the past for children to bear arms; and that vulnerable children become soldiers because they are manipulated by unscrupulous adults (Rosen, 2005, p. 1).

In 1959 the United Nations created the Declaration on the Rights of the Child but it little more than a moral guideline and not leagally binding. It took until the 1990s for all of the pieces to come together in the form of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted by the General Assembly in 1989. The Convention's 54 articles cover everything from a child's right to be free from sexual and economic exploitation, to the right to his or her own opinion, and to the right to education, health care, and economic opportunity (United Nations, n.d.).

Article 38 (n.d.) states: Governments must do everything they can to protect and care for children affected by war. Children under 15 should not be forced or recruited to take part in a war or join the armed forces. The Convention's Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict further develops this right, raising the age for direct participation in armed conflict to 18 and establishing a ban on compulsory recruitment for children under 18 (CRC).

Nations who enter into agreement with and ratify this treaty are bound to it by international law and are monitored to ensure compliance.

International Law Basics

International law

Encyclopedia Britannica defines international law, also called public international law or law of nations, as a body of legal rules, norms, and standards that apply between sovereign states and other entities that are legally recognized as international actors (n.d.). Nations recognize that any treaties they enter into as binding on one another and are bound to respect. These laws pertain to and include general matters of law, treaties, resolutions, declarations, etc. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is such a law.

Life as a Child Soldier

Every year thousands of child soldiers either 'volunteer' or are forced into participating in atrocities against others, including other children. They routinely witness or are members of executions, rapes, death squads, even massacres of their own family members.

Child soldiers are one of the most complex traumatized populations of children and adolescents. Typical experiences inflicted on children in armed groups are beatings, torture, witness of killings, and sexual abuse (Klasen, Oettingen, Daniels, & Adam, 2010, p. 573).


The impact of these experiences cannot be taken lightly. Traumatic experiences during abduction and experiences of domestic and community violence posed significant risk factors for all mental health outcomes (Klasen, et al., 2010, p. 578). Childhood is a time when psychosocial bonds, beliefs, and morals are formed but they are fragile and if outside forces interrupt those processes lasting damage can occur.

Loss of identity

The instinct of self preservation is present in every living creature, including children, and drives every action. To survive is to live to see another day and hope for better things. For anyone who has been taken against their will fear will often morph into obedience and obedience can become so severe as to turn into a psychological process known as Stockholm Syndrome.

Stockholm Syndrome is a psychological effect in which captives begin to identify with their captors. Named after a 1973 bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden in which four people, taken as hostages began to develop a strong association and alliance with the bank robbers, to the point of developing fear of those who had come to rescue them. Knowing they have no avenue of escape some captives develop such a strong fear of death that they become thankful their captors do not kill them and form a strong psychological bond, coming to believe their captors are good people who are in the right. Although first noticed after a bank robbery it is not difficult to see a similar process developing between children who have been forced into the role of soldiers and their captors, resulting in extreme obedience and loyalty to their commander. Many of these children have been forced to commit acts of violence to prove their fidelity to particular groups (Shaw, 2003, p. 241).

In Uganda the Lords Resistant Army controls thousands of children. "Once a child is abducted, everything… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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