Child Soldier
Indonesia Group 9

1. Similarities and differences in the recruitment of children into armed groups

Similarities:
· All were individuals under the age of 18 who is a member of or attached to any regular or irregular armed group.
· They were used to fill in the short of recruits in the military / civil defense / rebel groups.



Factors
Government Forces
Civil Defense
Rebel Forces
Method
Voluntary / un-forced
Voluntary / un-forced
Abduction – coerced / forced recruitment
Immediate threat to join
No
No
Yes
Child’s consent
Yes – exercising free will
Yes
No
Parental Support
Yes
Yes
No
Understand the consequences
Yes
Yes
No
Support by government (and / or) society
Yes
Yes
No
Cause / motivation
Escape from marginalization - Fortune, security, protection, food, stimulation, adventure, revenge
Rite of passage
Unaccompanied children, vulnerable family
Gender
Male & female
Mostly male
Male & female
(perceived) Added value
Economy
“Culture”
None
Future impact
  • Some children experiencing psychosocial stress over time after they grow up.
  • If the children joined the armed groups voluntarily (because of economical reason, security, protection, etc), it would prolonged their stay with armed groups and, after demobilization, make re-enlistment more likely (Peters 2005; Utas 2005; ILO 2003 in Schmidt, 2007) compared with the once who were forced.
  • Brett and Specht (2004) in Schmidt (2007) suggest that where children are not abducted or otherwise physically forced to join, demobilization and reintegration are unlikely to be successful and sustainable unless the reasons why they became involved in the first place are addressed.
  • Volunteers are more likely to stay with armed groups and thus contribute to a continuation of war than those who were forcibly recruited.

2. Volunteered child soldier

  • · Not all children is forced to be a soldier, research has shown that many also joined the group un-forced (voluntary).
  • · But those who did not force to join the armed groups don’t always mean that they did it voluntarily.
  • · Personal decisions to join armed groups (i.e. voluntary participation), were found to be based on six major factors, namely material needs, ideology, prestige of the army, feeling of exclusion, desire for vengeance, and fear.
  • · Sometimes joining the armed forces is the best option for some children at that moment – fulfillment of basic needs; young combatants in Sierra Leone said that they had acquired detailed knowledge about certain geographical areas, technical skills, survival techniques, an extensive network of contacts and “open eyes”. Moreover, armed groups - as alternative authorities - sometimes provided reasonable social systems, including free education, transport and health services, constituting further benefits. Economically, there were few attractive alternatives to combatant life. While rank and file soldiers rarely shared in the profits enjoyed by their superiors, combatants were almost always better off than civilians in the same area. In terms of education, joining an armed group may also have paid off. The war had led to the closure of schools, but some armed groups, such as the RUF, offered free bush-schools in their camps (Peters, 2004 in Schmidt, 2007)





References:

Boothby, N., Crawford, J., Halperin, H. 2006. Mozambique child soldier life outcome study: Lessons learned in rehabilitation and reintegration Efforts. Global Public Health; 1(1): 87_/107
Schmidt, Alice. 2007. Volunteer Child Soldiers as Reality: A development issue for Africa. New School Economic Review, Volume 2(1), 2007, 49-76