Innocence lost as recruitment of children continues

Steven Freeland; 15/2/10

There are approximately 300,000 children acting as front-line troops in armed conflict worldwide, with another 500,000 who are conscripted into government, paramilitary and guerilla groups as sex slaves, porters, cooks, spies and to plant landmines. These young boys and girls, who under international law are regarded as ”children”, are often forced to participate in the commission of heinous crimes. This horrific trend has a number of root causes. Children are seen as ”attractive” participants in armed conflict. They are vulnerable to outside influences, can be trained to become efficient soldiers and can be made to perform the most dangerous (and brutal) of tasks, through intimidation, manipulation, or under the influence of drugs. In addition, the proliferation of lightweight weapons such as the AK-47 means that children can be effectively deployed in active combat.