More than 250,000 children fight as soldiers in 86 countries across the globe, almost half of them in Africa. The military use of children takes three distinct forms: children can take direct part in hostilities as child soldiers; they can be used in support roles such as porters, spies, messengers, lookouts; or they can be used for political advantage as human shields or in propaganda.
Children are easy targets to recruit for military purposes because they are generally more obedient and malleable, hence easy to control, deceive and indoctrinate… Many are seized and recruited by force whereas others join to escape their circumstances.
Academia has offered various explanations for this puzzle, from the global proliferation of light automatic weapons (which children can easily handle), to ‘overpopulation’ which makes children a cheap and accessible resource. Others claim that children are more willing than adults to fight for non-monetary incentives such as honor, prestige, revenge and duty.
The psychological damaged caused by war can seriously affect the child’s future.