Child Soldiers Should Be Given Amnesty: Problem Of A Child Soldier In A Long Way Gone

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Should child soldiers be given amnesty is a dispute that has been brought up recently. Lots of news and articles are discussing and informing what a child soldier is and what they have done. “Child soldier” is a shorthand term for a girl or boy under the age of 18 recruited or used by any armed force or armed group in any capacity (UNICEF, 2007). It refers not only to children who involved in combat, but also to children who are used as porters, cooks, messengers, for sexual exploitation, or suicide bombers. Everyone has a different understanding of pardon, and the general public perception of amnesty is forgiveness. However, there is much more than that. Lock them into prison or completely absolve their felony are both too extreme; moreover, it is even harder for child soldiers to introspect and change. From the book and columns that I’ve read, I believe that they should have absolution. We could provide rehabilitation to them. We should give them the opportunity to live a life on their own will, free, and unrestricted. Sure there are child soldiers volunteered to go on the battlefield, but have we thought about why? Usually, people don’t ask to be a mine “detector” nor a sex slave. They were craved to survive, they were lost, manipulated, and they were misled by their own naive. There is also quite amount of kids were forced, kidnapped, or sold by their parents. In addition to abduction and looting, some armed groups have also enforced recruitment of child soldiers on a large scale. There are plenty of reasons they became a soldier, whether voluntary or not, it is their only option left.

Undertake the above, maintaining life is a significant justification. There are kids become soldiers because their family members had been gunned down by militaries or other groups; consequently, they have no choice but to take the army as a big family which would “accept” them. They need to subsist. They need food, money, and protection. Human desires to live, it’s our instinct. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of need, the first level is the Physiological Need. Physiological needs are considered the main physical requirements for human survival, unchanging demands that are required of basic human life. We want homeostasis, food, water, sleep, and shelter. Once the physiological need is satisfied, we lust safety like personal security, emotional security, financial security, health and well-being, more, safety needs against accidents or illness and their adverse impacts. In the article “How Do Children End Up as Child Soldiers?” It mentioned some rebel groups, for example, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, offer food, shelter, and survival to vulnerable youths, enticing them with incentives. These are simple and understandable reasons. Child soldiers are working for a slightly better life, a steadier place to stay. They’re trying to avoid themselves from dying, relatively, there will be sacrifices. We’ve all got to admit that we do consider ourselves first most of the time, they only chose what we are all doing.

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Besides the thirst to survive, child soldiers are also manipulated. They were managed mentally. Their commander persuades using words like “You’re taking revenge for your people.”, “This is the best thing you can do for your country.”, alternatively, “Imagining you are destroying a great devil.” (Beah, I., A Long Way Gone, 2007, P.108). Children were similarly incited. The best evidence is from the book “A Long Way Gone” by Ishmael Beah, he wrote that their commander describes what the enemy has done to their people. The commander said the rival cut off people’s heads and made them watch, forced sons intercourse with their mom, furthermore, cut open pregnant women’s stomach, took the babies out and killed both of them (p.108). The adults had also played violent clips of companions getting killed to child soldiers. Hearing and seeing this happening to someone you know, your friends, your family, I believe the majority of us would burst into anger instead of being nice, having mercy on your enemy. The commanders not simply used their hatred, yet they use the guiltiness and culpable feeling which lingered in child soldiers’ mind to take advantage of them. Child Soldiers are the ones who survived from the war; consequently, they must do something for the passed away. Nevertheless, kids felt the social pressure from others who chose to have reprisal. Under pressure by peers, they’ve chosen to join the army, and for the ones who didn’t want to get involved in violence, were always dead somehow. Not only the thoughts were manipulated, but the child soldiers’ actions were also controlled as well. Drugs and narcotics are commonly used to control them. A rescued Burkina Faso child soldier later recalled that the leader had induced the entire team addict to drugs; thus they became easily controlled; A man who had worked as a child soldier in Liberia said when he was only 12 years old, they would collectively drink a strange potion before going to the battle. After drinking, they would be “courageous” and “injuries don’t hurt no more.” Therefore, they are even number to death and killing. What makes us individual is that we have our mind. In contrast, child soldiers are puppets on the string; they are treated as a weapon.

Some young children don’t even know the severity of what they’re doing. The nature of kids is easily manipulated, profoundly loyal, and dauntless. A military commander from the African nation of Chad told Human Rights Watch child soldiers don’t complain, they don’t expect to be paid, and if they were commanded to kill, they kill. An article in “The Paper”, written by Bing-Qiang Xie, mentioned child soldiers who have been brainwashed don’t feel cruel when implementing atrocious behavior. The child soldiers often execute the manipulator’s orders scrupulously without thinking. Some witnessed the killing of child soldiers, said that ‘children are more terrible than adult mobs,’ ‘adult mobster would kill for robbing or revenge, but child soldiers might just kill for kill.’ Children are oblivious to their actions. Ignorance makes them innocent. They’re dummies who immolate in conflicts.

There are points I suppose should be good reasons why child soldiers should be given amnesty and receive rehabilitation. Child soldiers are not perpetrators; they’re victims too.


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