Print Email Download Reference This Send to Kindle Reddit This
submit to reddit

A Decade Of Conflicts And Child Soldiers Sociology Essay

In the past decade due to deadly conflict around the world, children were more and more sacrificed as child soldiers. For the children the world is now more violent and violated place. In the last decade, 2 million children were killed due to conflicts. More than 12 million children were made homeless, while 6 million children have been injured or disabled. It is approximate that another 20 million children have been displaced within the boarders of their own countries. At any given time, children under the age of 18 years who have been forced or encouraged to take up arms as child soldiers is generally in the range of 300,000. Each year 8,000 to 10,000 children become the victims of land mines. [1] 

2. Child soldiers have featured prominently in international and internal conflict in recent years. In one of the most deadly conflicts, children feature most prominently in the terrorist campaign of Sri Lanka Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). They were fighting for an independence separate Tamil mono-ethnic state in north eastern Sri Lanka. They utilized both male and female fighters in guerrilla and terrorist attacks against military, political, economic, religious and cultural targets.

3. After the ethnic riots of “Black July” in 1983, there was a massive migration of civilian to India. The LTTE leadership decided to establish a training base in India for recruits less than 16 years of age from the civilian who fled to India. Initially the LTTE identified them (child soldiers) as “Tiger Cubs”. Then they received non-military training, most primary education and physical exercises. In 1984, LTTE changed the name of Tiger Cubs and formed new unit called “Baby Brigade “. It is nothing but the child soldier unit of LTTE fighting wing.

4. The child fighters were originally a part of the Baby Brigade but later LTTE gradually integrated them with other units to refill the heavy losses. Since April 1995, some 60 percent of LTTE cadres killed in combat were children. “Olivichu”, the LTTE monthly video release, supports those trends. A study by a United Kingdom based Sri Lankan researcher Dushy Ranatunge reveals that at least 60 percent of the dead LTTE fighters were under 18 years and are mostly girls and boys age in between 10 to 16. [2] 

5. At the time of researching on this topic, the government of Sri Lanka totally sweep away the LTTE. But there are no of war effected children and child soldiers are in IDP camps and rehabilitation centres .

CHAPTER 2

METHODOLOGY

PREVIEW

1. The aim of this presenting on rehabilitation of child soldiers to help integrate them in to society is to study the factors behind child soldiering, why they became as chilled combatant, the role of international community and the role of Government of Sri Lanka on this and how integrate them back to society.

STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

2. Most of the countries in the world face this problem due to internal conflicts. When it is studying there are so many reasons behind that. Due to non education and poor family back ground may cause child to joint with some terrorist organization as a chilled combatant. In Sri Lanka resent past LTTE has taken children by force for their terrorist activities.

3. In Sri Lanka though war is over there are number of chilled soldiers in IDP camps. Children make obedient and cheep soldiers capability of imposing terror on civilians and government forces. Child soldiers are forced to fight and are generally illiterate and from poor families. The children survive from combat are often physically injured and psychologically scared.

Some of the factors covered as follows.

a Who is the child soldier

b Reasons behind child to became as soldiers

c Child combatant is a biggest problem in the world

d It is observed that most of the Asian countries face this problem

e In Sri Lanka it is considerable numbers of child soldiers can be seen in the IDP camps

f UNO and NGOs role in this issue

g How to take them in to society as a normal children.

I will society take them in to society as a children.

J What are the steps that can be take to rehabilitate them.

K Sri Lanka government’s role on this issue.

THE RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS

4. Due to the war children suffered physically and mentally. As a nation we should take them in to the society same as other children. So that we should establish good environment for them and Sri Lankan government should have a sound national plan for that

METHOD OF DATA COLLECTION

5. The methodology adopted in gathering data will be as follows:

Extracts from child psychology publications.

Extracts from newspapers and reports.

Extracts from books published on child soldiering.

Interviews and questionnaires.

Related web sites of the Internet.

Guidance and advice of experts on the subject.

CHAPTER3

THE CHILDHOOD

DEFINITION OF CHILD

1. According to the 1989, UN CRC, a child means every human being below the age of 18 years, unless under the law applicable in their case, the "age of maturity' is attained earlier. The ""age of maturity" is a social, religious and cultural or legal device by which societies acknowledge the transition to adulthood and there is no necessary correlation between any of the age levels. [3] 

2. The idea of the child as a person under 18 years of age is widely accepted in international circles, even if a different terminology such as '"youth" or "'young people" may be a better ward to describe those in the crucial 15-18 age bracket whose physical, emotional and intellectual maturity is rapidly developing even as they continue to face certain legal constraints. Clearly, those under 18, no matter their individual capacities, are generally presumed not to appreciate fully the nature and consequences of their action.

CHILD HOOD, A POTENTIAL TARGET

3. Although the Convention defined as a child in general as anyone below the age of 18 years, most young combatants are between 15 and 18. A majority of these trained child soldiers were boys, but significant numbers of girls are also engaged.

4. Though child rights activists are campaigning at international, national and local level to rise the age to 18, there is no international organization or mechanism to regulate against guerrilla and terrorist organizations recruiting children to their organizations.

BASIC NEEDS OF CHILDREN

5. Their basic human needs of survival and growth to their full potential are largely, if not wholly, dependent for fulfilment, especially in their early years on the willingness and ability of adults to recognize and discharge their obligation to protect them.

THE CONVENTION ON RIGHTS OF CHILDREN

6. Today children around the world suffer abuses in many ways. Child soldiering is one such situation. Children were kidnapped or forcibly recruited to many militant organizations to serve as soldiers. They were ill-treated when they were with militant groups. Once they surrender or captured by government forces they were imprisoned in inhuman conditions. Sometimes they were put in cells with adults without considering their rights as children. The Convention on the Right of the Child put children's rights on the world's agenda. It is the most widely confirm treaty in the world. Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on November 20, 1989, the Convention promises children around the world the right to life, liberty, education, and health care.

7. The Convention on the Rights of the child emphasized the importance of a happy childhood and it had been described the Rights of the Child very clearly and most comprehensively in its 54 articles guaranteeing for the first time social and economic as well civil and political rights adding new rights never before recognized. It is said that granting a Child the Right to information and freedom of expression would amount to allowing him/her as well, to decide on the life and organization of the family and society.

CHAPTER 4

CHILD SOLDIERS

DEFINITION OF CHILD SOLDIER

1. A child soldier is any person under 18 years of age who is a 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. [4] 

REASONS FOR CHILD TO BECOME A CHILD SOLDIER

2. There is a very thin line that separates voluntary from forced recruitment. It is not possible to know exactly at what age a young person is capable of “volunteering" in the way we accept that of an adult. No one makes a decision in a vacuum and clearly a child can be susceptible to certain types of pressure from certain people and circumstances beyond their control.

3. Although forced recruitment of children is practiced in many countries (Burma, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Angola, Sri Lanka and Sudan), a majority of them are not so much forced.

4. Examining different contexts and taking into account the specific experiences of children will help us to draw a clearer picture of the child soldier in a given conflict. Forced recruitment of children happens because of shortages of adult soldiers, institutionalised discrimination against certain sectors of society, a perceived need to control the population.

5. There are many young people voluntarily join armed groups. In attempting to explain why children join armed groups. We can try to examine the followings: [5] 

a. Trigger factors. These are immediate happening of events, situations or exact reasons that cause a child's participation such as urgent or emergency individual needs or family problems and suggestions and pressure from peers and adults. Their social environment influences children’s subjective understanding of reality and these exert strong pressure on the children.

b. Circumstantial factors. These are the complex order of situations or influences existing, occurring in and resulting from the child's significant interactions and relations providing context and history to their involvement and development. It could be a combination of any of the following: experience of neglect and abuse, poor parenting styles and weak family ties, negative experiences in school, etc.

c. Contributory factors. These are factors that aggravate the current situation of children and young people in their given localities. These are the social, political, cultural and economic realities in society today such as poverty, social injustice, limited or no access to basic services, militarization of daily life, and structural violence.

6. Children are vulnerable to military recruitment because of their emotional and physical immaturity. They are easily manipulated and can be drawn into violence that they are too young to resist or understand. Technological advances in weaponry and the proliferation of small arms have contributed to the increased use of child soldiers.

POVERTY AND FAMILY BACKGROUNG

7. “Poverty and lack of schooling are said to be among key causes that draw hundreds of young boys and girls to took up arms in Sri Lanka’s North East and many are likely to face starvation if they quit the guerrillas”. [6] If a significant number of child soldiers were indeed released this would augur well for the future.

8. Poverty is the main reason for joining the war. Due to domestic problems especially the financial difficulties, these children were prevented from schooling and were pushed by their own parents to join the LTTE organization. Mostly the children of high society like upper class and upper middle class or middle class are not recruited as child soldiers. Reason was that these families are well educated and guided well these prevailing conditions.

TAMIL SOCIO-CULTURAL IDENTITY

9. In 1983 riots Tamil as a group were humiliated, the youths took up arms to prevent complete eclipse of the group identity. Language was the vital element of the Tamil identity. The identity develops from childhood through successive psycho-social stages to culminate in youth. [7] 

10. For younger girls, who experience the wide spread socio- cultural oppression against their sex, it is a means of escape and liberation. In many youngsters political repression, socio economic deprivation, frustration in life and fear of enemy has become prime motives if not compulsions for joining the militants. Another potential factor has been the oppressive Tamil-Hindu society where lower castes were suppressed by the so-called higher castes. For many from the lower castes joining the militants become a way out of this oppressive system.

VIOLENCE

11 Laws such as the prevention of Terrorist Act and the Emergency Regulation allow for detention for long periods with out judicial process and sometimes violent act against such detainees. For example Bindunuwewa massacre. The great impact of this kind of structural violence and oppression is on the younger generation. These conditions create a sense of fear and hopelessness

12. Recruitment to the LTTE has remained largely voluntarily earlier. But the majority recruited may be children. LTTE denied that they used child soldiers. Likewise child recruitment by the LTTE was to become institutionalised after 1990. Older men were no longer joining. [8] In 1987 the LTTE banned other Tamil militant groups and started using young boys and girls as fighters.

IMPACT OF CHILD SOLDIERING TOWARDS CHILDREN

13. War has be fallen a grave impact on a child development on attitudes, beliefs relationships with his countrymen and society, moral ethics and values and the mental framework for understanding society and understanding his own self and life itself. Children represent the future society in which these conflicts are waged but what will be the future and what can be expected from these nations where the horizon is masked by brutality and the youths of future generation are robbed of their golden childhood

DIRECT IMPACT

14. Death and injury.

a. Child soldiers are being used in more than thirty countries around the world. Children forced to take part in atrocities were often given drugs to overcome their fear or reluctance to fight. Because of their immaturity and lack of experience, child soldiers suffer higher casualties than their adult counterparts. Even after the conflict is over, they may be left physically disabled [9] 

15. Human right abuse.

Sri Lanka has traditionally high level of education and training provided for children. But due to the past conflict many displaced children lose key identity document that is their birth certificate. Since birth certificate is an important document in Sri Lanka, displaced children are unable to gain full access to education. Not even that, they will not able to apply to all important national identity card which must be present at every check points and need for day to day work.

16. Displacement.

a. Child soldiering and displacement are so integrally related. It demonstrates that it is extremely difficult to separate the impact of conflicts on children from the impact of small arms. Measures to ameliorate one situation often improve the other.

b. Former child soldiers are vulnerable to displacement. They cannot simply return to their families and communities, and some families may reject them due to crimes committed and instead they become internally displaced person, refugee or seekers.

INDIRECT IMPACT

17. Psychological trauma.

a. Children appeared to be much more capable of retuning to normal after stress. But in the long term, when the armed conflicts continues, when no safe and secure not available for children, they may be put under enormous strain. Adults may not easily recognize the long-term responses of children to death, destruction and disruption, as children cannot verbally express their feeling and experiences. The way child react to trauma will depend on his/her age. The response also is influenced by the nature of the trauma. Some common traumatic experiences are separation anxiety, emotional disorders, sleep disturbances, unable to express and release their emotions verbally or otherwise, behaviour changes etc. [10] 

Anti social or psychopathic personalities are characterized by a conspicuous lack of conscience and human sympathy, rejection of social norms, emotional coldness, poor relationship, meaninglessness, cruel, callous and aggressive behaviour and poor impulse control. Delinquents, aggressive and psychopathic personalities may do well in a military set up where their energies and excess aggression can be diverted to national ends and their confinements to the Army proves to be a protection for society.

d. Children complained of headaches, dizziness, fainting spells or chest pains with out a few days or months of joining the military movement. They were found to have repressed, separation anxiety for their parents and home or difficulty in adjusting to the rigorous training and militant life.

e. The traumatic loss of family members, the experiences of cruelty, atrocity or barbaric behaviour, rarely leave visible scars but the effects are profound. Children may withdrew from contract, some become obsessed with violence or live on feelings of guilt or fantasies of revenge and become preoccupied with their role in past events.

18. Insecurity.

a. Child soldiers are essentially displaced. Displacement for these children means insecurity and lack of access to choice, resources and opportunities. As child soldiers who cannot simply go home, it means risk of death, disability and serious psychological trauma.

b. The social, psychological, moral and emotional deprivation they suffer, the persistent fear of loosing or the actual loss of parents are as damaging to childhood as being deprived of food, water and health care. They may have no idea that there could be better future. So many child soldiers have grown into adulthood without having known their family for long periods.

19. Culture of violence.

a. Exposure of children during their formative years to insecurity, hopelessness, and violent deaths of loved ones as well as other cruel and aggressive acts and to the full paraphernalia of war with its instruments of destruction will permanently influence their development.

b. So the delinquency has been found to be a common complication of exposure to war conditions. It is also likely that repeated exposure to violence, a family life ruled by terror and frequent disruption and a society in a continuous state of disequilibrium, where acceptance and praise to given to act of violence and recognition to the instruments of war teaches the child quickly the ways of violence

20. Lost opportunities.

a. The presence of these widespread sophisticated weapons can have significant effect on future opportunities for children. The continued presence of these weapons in post conflict societies “not only undermines a country’s ability to sustain peace but also represents a major stumbling block to sustainable human development”. Children are severely affected by the lack of sustainable developments.

b. Spread of two-decade conflict has caused untold suffering to millions of children caught up in armed conflict, not only during the conflict but also for reduction there after. The presence, proliferation and misuse of small weapons and light weapons have a devastating impact on children in conflict and post conflict societies. Cheap, easy to use and widely available these weapons fuel many contemporary conflicts and prolong, spread and deeper the consequences of conflict

EFFECTS OF CHILD SOLDERING TOWARDS THE SOCIETY

21. The war has affected the functioning of the family unit in many ways. From the loss of one or both parents, separations particularly the children may it be Sinhalese or Tamil. Our Sri Lankan society is still based on the family. As such, the family tie is destroyed as a result of their child members being used in combat. Therefore, the society with dispersed families is destroyed to a greater extent.

22. The children from their young peer groups are separated by the war. This is what actually expected by the LTTE. Their parents are desolate and helpless and other family members are liable to ill treatment by the security forces. These children are being taught to obey only the LTTE leaders and to ignore the normal law of the country. After joining the organization they were motivated in such a manner that they were anxious to take revenge from the Sri Lankan forces and the Sinhalese people in the South. Most of them did not have any idea about so called independent Tamil state before they joined the organization. But after some times when they were captured only they had realized and understood the real Sinhala soldier and its hospitality and the importance of peace.

23. These children at the beginning, although they join the organization with willingness, face serious mental retardation because they lack the parental love and affection. There is no kind treatment or love from the LTTE organization even they fall sick. They are not treated well but are ill cared. Such treatment has affected the child’s mind very badly.

24. Before this LTTE came into being, family setup, the connection between the parents and their children was so much good and it has affected the society very favourably. This has rewarded the society with very decent children. As such small children being taken out of the families, whether forcibly or willingly, have directly affected the families as well a

CHAPTER 5

ANALYSIS

1. Mainly the child soldiers are from the Tamil community, especially from the lower castes of oppressed Hindu Tamils. Initially Tamil youths joined the LTTE organization. However, in time the older youths escaped and migrated. Older men were no longer joining. Then the LTTE started using children and women as fighters recruiting them forcibly and willingly after motivated.

2. LTTE organization was one of the most dangerous front line in guerrilla organization in the world. They select children from the poor families, down trodden broken families, families of illiterate parents, and from the families of fallen heroes and families of poverty ridden and the children who are orphaned having lost their elders and relatives. LTTE was fully aware that they are violating child rights but continue to mislead telling that they come to them seeking recruitment. At the some time the LTTE organization terrorized the Tamil community and has laid down an unwritten law to the effect that every family must contribute a child of either sex to the organization. [11] 

3. Children separated from their families become mentally disabled or permanently sick and deprived of earning, food shelter and of family ties and education. Some of them have become drug addicted, violent and criminals. They have become a burden to themselves and to the Tamil society, to the whole country and to the whole world. On the other hand, their old parents neglected and isolated too have become another burden to society along with them.

4. War is the main reason for such a situation. The prime duty of the government, NGOs and the UN is to stop as well as evade children joining the war. Highlighting the violation of children’s rights and as well as a proper and correct rehabilitation while safeguarding the children’s rights.

5. At rehabilitation camps in Sri Lanka more than 100 former Tamil Tiger child soldiers are undergoing a year long rehabilitation course. There are nearly 300 child soldiers are integrate them in to society. Although the camp is surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by the Army, the inmates say the atmosphere inside is more like hostel. Many of them says that the LTTE took them by force. [12] 

CHAPTER 6

RECOMMENDATIONS

1. Education and awareness building are key elements in changing the reintegration of youth into post conflict societies and cultures of violence. Hence, the Government must provide effective programmes that provide peaceful alternatives to counter conflict, violence and crime and eliminate the effects of armed struggle on the psycho-social development of children and their communities.

2. As such the authorities must take action to create secure conditions within which children can be educated and interact socially. The government must spare sufficient amount of money for the development of schools, rebuilding of schools, public libraries, health care facilities, publication of books,and recreational areas as an incentive to develop community peace essential for the well being of children.

3. Government must bring forward an accepted economic plan viable and effective, giving war affected children an opportunity to rehabilitate, to have shelter, food and education by coordinating NGOs, agencies and other donor approaches under a rights based frame-work implimented in order to protect children in futuere conflict.

4. Special attention should be paid by the government to eliminate in future recruitment of children into armed forces and groups by achieving universal ratification and full implementation of the optional Protocol to the Convention on the rights of the child on the involvment of children in armed conflict without reservation and declaration of 18 as the minimum age for voluntary recruitments.

5. Also the Government should legalize the using of children under 18 years in armed conflict as a criminal offence, and must grant refugee status to children under 18 years.

6. Also provide primary health care and rehabilitative care of children with sound health conditions and specially the psychological care and facilitate the fullest possible social integration.

7. The Government should provide emergency relief to rehabilitate the agriculture livestock and fisheries and to re-employ or to employ them on other income generating enterprise to enhance local capacities to improve house hold security on a self-reliant and sustainable basis in the North and East.

8. Also the Government must take steps to start programmes dedicated to family unification for former child soldiers.

9. Prohibiting of the import of arms to groups that use child soldiers as well as eliminating economical assistance to the same should be started by the Government.

11. Provide special care and attention considering the impact of conflicts of children, being victims of the conflict, on girls in particular the specific abuses perpetrated against them, and must take actions immediately to protect the rights of children and the rights of women.

12. The government must facilitate all requirements to eliminate HIV/AIDS infection and other sexually transmitted diseases spread through rape and sexual violence and against girls with children born from rape.

13. Special attention must be taken by the Government to provide successful rehabilitation through social and medical support and counseling, as girls and boys fulfill different roles within the armed groups and also a gender analysis must be included essentially because the girls represent the reproductive force of a damaged community.

14. Government and civil organizations should prioritize protection of unaccompanied or separated girls, for example, organizing special accommodation and safeguards for such female children and others at particular risk of recruitment.

15. The Government should ensure universal birth registration to have everyone a Birth Certificate and in order to prevent recruitment under 18 by default.

16. The Government must ensure speedy registration procedures at Camps and Settlements.

18. Make effort to trace and reconcile former child soldiers with their families, using long-term institutional care only as a last resort.

19. The Government must take early action to restrict civilian possession of military assault-weapons and include restrictions on the age of the user with a minimum age required.

20. The Government should use the Media to give the real picture to the mass by exhibiting how and why these children join the war and by using the electronic media the State must systematically dismantle the structures of discrimination and violence against these young human beings and the Tamil minority, as well.

21 Evan after children leave the rehabilitation center and return to their families should follow the progress of their normal life. Should help them to catch up their missed schooling and should give them a vocational training with the support of NGOs.

CONCLUSION

1. The ideological experiment of motivating children as combatants has been a highly successful one. The LTTE has been able to enhance its performance in battle by developing child units, a sizable cadre of the Baby Brigade, were consisting of children in the age group of 7-15 in both sexes. Most of them were recruited not willingly, but being motivated yet not knowing anything of a Separate State. Their performances were high..

2. The United Nation Organization is the most powerful Organization, which can fund for rehabilitation program. It is only the UNO, which can take stern action against Terrorist organizations for employing children in war. However, Prabakaran has promised when they were fighting to Mr. Olara Otunu, which they will never employ children in war combats in future, they broke the promise in no time, but it seems that UNO has not taken proper action far against this incident. Fact is that, though these NGOs, about 82 in number, talk about the rights of the children does nothing about their rights. Their responsibility is to highlight internationally about the injustice done by the terrorist and avoid such happenings in future. The violations of children’s rights have to be enlightened and they must safeguard the children’s rights as well. A UN Special Envoy Maj Gen Patrick Camert had a visit to Sri Lanka to assess the situation of children affected by the conflict .He paid more attention on re-integration of ex-child. [13] 

Print Email Download Reference This Send to Kindle Reddit This

Share This Essay

To share this essay on Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ just click on the buttons below:

Request Removal

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have the essay published on the UK Essays website then please click on the link below to request removal:

Request the removal of this essay.


More from UK Essays