Friday, March 6, 2009

possibly the beginning of something beautiful..

welp, looks like i'm entering the whole blog world..

kinda scary..

((not really..))

and i guess i'll just copy and paste my latest research paper, on the count of my thoughts aren't nearly gathered enough to even begin to type them.. and i am way too excited to not post anything.. sorry i'm so lame.. i just can't help it..

"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, from Columbia, forced to join the paramilitary at age 7.

"I feel so bad about the things that I did. It disturbs me so much that I inflicted death on other people. When I go home I must do some traditional rites because I have killed. I must perform these rites and cleanse myself. I still dream about the boy from my village that I killed. I see him in my dreams, and he is talking to me, saying I killed him for nothing, and I am crying." -16-year-old girl after demobilization from an armed group in Central Africa.

Child Soldiers are children that are abducted from their homes and forced to fight in combat. These boys and girls are anywhere from 7 to 18 years of age. Government forces, paramilitary associations, and rebel groups are forcing over 300,000 children to fight in more than 30 countries around the world. Africa has the largest number of child soldiers. Due to war and human rights violations, another approximate 20 million children have to run away from their homes.

Child soldiers carry out a variety of tasks such as laying mines, planting bombs, investigating, pretending to be decoys, acting as messengers or guards, cooking and doing household tasks (Child Soldiers). The children, once involved in the war, become spies, suicide bombers, mine sweepers, or are put on the front line of battle. A countless number of children are forced to become sex slaves, both girls and boys.

When the children are taken in as sex slaves, they are daily threatened by rape, domestic violence, sexual abuse, trafficking, sexual humiliation and mutilation. Use of rape and other forms of violence against women has become a common strategy in wars for all sides. After the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, investigative reports concluded that almost every female 12 years of age and older who survived the genocide was raped.

Several of these children are demanded to viciously murder their own families, friends, and people of their neighborhood. So when the children come back to their homes, they are repeatedly neglected. In excess of 6 million children are wounded, regularly suffering extreme emotional and mental damaging, resulting in the loss of their individual growth. In just the last decade, more than 2 million children were killed as a firsthand consequence of war.

The use of child soldiers is an extremely serious matter. But there are a few things we can do to assist in their release.

One of the easiest ways we can help bring these children out of war is by giving. Your money will help. No amount is too small. Invisible Children: Rough Cut is a documentary filmed by three that traveled to Africa in search of a story. What they got was so much more. The movie hit the hearts of millions of people. After seeing this heartbreaking reality, people around the world made their donations to help these children. Since the film Invisible Children: Rough Cut was released, night commuting for the children of northern Uganda has ended. Night commuting is where the children go to government buildings, such as hospitals, to sleep. The children sleep on the floors of these buildings, back to back, head to foot. They seek rest in these places in fear that if they went home, the rebel groups would abduct or kill them.

Another suggestion to help support this cause is to strongly encourage peace talks. For the past few years, the region has been closer to peace than ever before. In Juba, Sudan, from June 2006 to March 2008, the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Government of Uganda had a series of peace talks to pursue the end of their disagreement. These peace talks, which were supported by exclusive envoys from the United States, along with other nations, permitted for the longest time of peace ever in the 23-year battle of northern Uganda.

There are international laws that forbid the use of child soldiers, so seeing that our laws are strictly enforced is a third alternative to help. But the number of child soldiers today is still close to that of four years ago. Jo Becker, advocacy administrator for the Children's Rights Division states, “Until the government takes genuine steps to implement its laws, children will continue to be snatched off the streets and forced into military service”. We, as American citizens, should take a stand and see to it that our laws are completely enforced.

Volunteering is also an excellent way in contributing to the cause of child soldiers. If we were to take these children as refugees, we could give them a place to find peace. Rehabilitation programs could greatly help these children. Maybe with our help, these children could live the childhood they dream of having and the one that everyone deserves.

There is no doubt that these children grow up with severe mental and emotional issues. All the stress and horror of war ultimately handicaps the children. Their minds have known nothing other than killing. They have never learned anything more. They have never experienced anything more. If a child soldier is given a blank piece of paper to draw, the child will draw a gun or a man in a military suit, because that is the only thing the child can identify with. If nothing else, we could at least spread the word about the seriousness of child soldiers. By simply purchasing a War Child or Invisible Children shirt, we would be contributing a small amount of our money; and by wearing the shirt we would be raising awareness for everyone we come into contact with.

If we are not helping to get them out, we are helping to keep them in.

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