Child Soldiers Essay

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Balaji 1
Suchir Balaji
Mr. Ruskus
World Core
19 May 2014
Poverty and its Relation to Child Soldiers
Throughout the world, the use of child soldiers in both civil wars and international conflicts has been evident. Children are combatants in nearly three-quarters of the world’s conflicts and pose . Moral reasons aside, the use of child soldiers leaves the population of demobilized child soldiers psychologically scarred, and regions where child soldiers are used risk long-term instability as children are consumed in ongoing wars. Studies have demonstrated that impoverished regions are more at risk for the presence of child soldiers; this correlation is primarily a result of poverty introducing additional incentives to child soldiering and reducing the state capacity to prevent child soldiering.
Child soldiers have been present in 21 conflicts throughout the world, with hundreds of thousands serving in both government and rebel armed forces. Although the UN is intensifying efforts in combating the problem of child soldiers, setting a goal of zero use of children in government forces by 2016, child soldiers are still prevalent today. Child soldiers were present in nearly all operating groups in the DRC, representing up to 35% of their troops, and it is clear that the presence of these child soldiers are directly correlated with economic status. Child soldiers are recruited both voluntarily and involuntarily, with 64% from DRC, Burundi, Rwanda, and Congo joining as a result of a personal decision. 21% in Burundi, Congo, DRC, and Liberia are abducted, with 15% being forced to serve. Both the incentive towards voluntary child soldiering and the efficiency of involuntary recruiting have economic roots, affecting the total presence of child...

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... is highly correlated with defense capabilities, impoverished countries are often unable to protect these primary target groups.
Poverty introduces additional incentives for child soldiering and inhibits state capacity to prevent child soldiering, and as a result is a large contributor to the presence of child soldiers. The perceived economic benefits of child soldiering combined with the sense of identity and promises made by army leaders make it an attractive option for the poor to voluntarily enlist. The efficiency of involuntary recruiting also benefits from poverty, as a poor government cannot protect the primary target groups of recruiting. Knowing the relationship between poverty and the presence of child soldiers can help direct international funding for the prevention of child soldiers, adding a focus of negating incentives and increasing state capacity.
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