2History and OverviewChild soldiers have been used since Bible times- for example, Saul’s use of David. In medieval times, boys were used as squires. Even in early modern warfare, children have been used for ‘drummer boys’ sometimes gunned down on the front line, and ‘powder monkeys’ on naval ships. Even in the holocaust, Jewish boys were forced to join the Jewish resistance to survive. More recently, the problem is most critical in Africa. Mostly, children being used in fighting can take form in three main ways: They can actually take part in fighting, be used in supporting roles (such as porters, spies, messengers, look-outs, and sexual slaves) or they can be used as human shields or propaganda.
3Specific Examples:Colombia-"They give you a gun and you have to kill the best friend you have. They do it to see if they can trust you. If you don't kill him, your friend will be ordered to kill you. I had to do it because otherwise I would have been killed. That's why I got out. I couldn't stand it any longer." 17-year-old boy, joined paramilitary group aged 7, when a street child.Uganda-"Early on when my brothers and I were captured, the LRA explained to us that all five brothers couldn't serve in the LRA because we would not perform well. So they tied up my two younger brothers and invited us to watch. Then they beat them with sticks until two of them died. They told us it would give us strength to fight. My youngest brother was nine years old." Former child soldier, aged 13.Zimbabwe-"There was no one in charge of the dormitories and on a nightly basis we were raped. The men and youths would come into our dormitory in the dark, and they would just rape us - you would just have a man on top of you, and you could not even see who it was. If we cried afterwards, we were beaten with hosepipes. We were so scared that we did not report the rapes. The youngest girl in our group was aged 11 and she was raped repeatedly in the base." 19-year-old girl describing her experience in the National Youth Service Training Program.
4Key people/organizations connected Coalition to Stop the use of Child Soldiers(http://www.child-soldiers.org/home)Amnesty International(http://www.amnesty.org/en/children)
5Proposed Solutions/Responses Organizations such as Amnesty International are working to stop the recruitment of children into armed forces and reintegrate former child soldiers back into normal, or civilian, life.
6The Biblical Perspective Q: 1) What does the Bible say about the use of child soldiers?A: 1 a) The deprivation of liberty, and enforced arms bearing and soldiering are a violation of an individual - especially a child who cannot defend themselves. The bible says that all humans are made in the image of God, and therefore have great individual dignity. This means that things such as slavery - particularly the extreme example of child slavery where children are stolen against their will, must be in violation of their freedom, and their dignity as image bearers of God. 1 b) God has particular concern and compassion for the weakest. God in the Old Testament always has a concern for the weakest in society - the widow, and the orphan - and child soldier would certainly fall in this category. God is always concerned with protection of the weakest, and liberation of the slave (eg Exodus where he rescued the ISraelites from Egypt). Exploitation of children, and forcing them to sin by killing people would certainly be condemned by Jesus, who said it that someone should put a mill stone around their own neck, rather than cause a child to sin.So ... the taking of children to be soldiers and their enforced slavery is in radical violation of God's character and law, and is a symptom of radical evil in the world.
7The Biblical Perspective (continued) Q: 2) What do you think Jesus would have done if the problems of child soldiers was happening back in his day (When he came down to earth)?A: 2) I think Jesus would have condemned the use of child soldiers in his teaching, and also if he had come across any examples of child soldiers he would have definitely freed them - he came to set the captives free from Luke 4 and the Isaiah quote from Isaiah 61. Q: 3) Are there any examples of child soldiers in the Bible?A: 3) I don't think there are any examples of child soldiers in the bible - although in Old Testament times very often when one country was defeated its people were taken as slaves, and it is probable that the children would have also been made to work as slaves, or not had any freedom over their own lives.
8Call to ActionOften issues seem so far away it’s hard to do anything about them. But you can do something about child soldiers. Donate to and get involved with organizations trying to stop child soldiers. Also, you could write letters to governments that still allow child soldiers telling them that it’s wrong.
9Bibliography Internet: “Voices of Young Soldiers” Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers Jan. 8th, 2009“Military Use of Children” Wikipedia Jan 15th 2009“Children and Human Rights” Amnesty International Jan 19th, 2009People:Um…my youth leader?