The use of child soldiers in a conflict is often portrayed as an absolute evil, one of the most potent tricks the modern day mass media uses in order to denigrate a side in a conflict is to portray them as people who employ child soldiers but a closer look at the issue reveals that the issue is not as black and white as many would like us to believe, the use of a child as a soldier in a conflict is not the ultimate harm that can be visited upon a child, in many conflicts the employment of a children as soldier saves them from a greater harm.
Contrary to the popular perception, it is not true that all children who are involved in an armed conflict are forced or coerced into doing so; many children join an armed group out of their own free will.[[x]1] In areas beset by poverty, crime and conflict, the armed groups provide the children who join up with them with regular meals, regular salaries and protect them from murder, rape and harassment from other groups. Researchers have found that in many areas of conflict the best option for survival for a child who has lost its parents and guardians is to join an armed group as a child soldier (Miers, 733).
In many conflict ridden areas there is a lack of educational or employment opportunities available to young people, this makes employment in the military the best prospect for a career for these young people. According to young soldiers who were involved in the Congo conflict, they had joined the army because they could not find any jobs in the civilian sector since the local economy had been devastated by the conflict, as a result the army was the only employer that was still recruiting and was still able to regularly pay them wages (Brett and Specht, 22).
Some children join conflicts because they feel safer as members of militias than they did as civilians; children in a conflict ridden area are always vulnerable to rape especially female children, a female child soldier when asked why she joined the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, replied, “It’s because of the war. When it’s the war you don’t choose because if you have weapons, you can defend yourself, if you don’t have any, you are beaten, one kills you, and one rapes you, even the boys.” (Brett and Specht, 13).
[[x]1]Sentence that uses coordination
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