The Role of Socialization of Children in War

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For over 20 years, the Lord's Resistance Army has been at war with the government of Uganda, causing a civil war. The Army's Rebel Groups, have attacked small villages, resulting in thousands of innocent deaths, and the abduction of children to fight with the rebels. In order to maintain these organizations, the Rebel Groups are faced with the difficult task of recruiting individuals. With limited available resources, the Rebel Groups cannot offer any appealing incentives to their recruits, but require complete loyalty (Vermeij, 2009). A child's innocence, trust, and blind obedience make them desirable soldiers. For the Rebel Groups in South Africa, children are therefore strategically used as pawns in combat. Children under the age of 18 make up 60% of the Lord's Resistance Army (Vermeij), and “world-wide, 300 000 children are currently used as child soldiers” (Derluyn et. al). The purpose of my paper, is to explore the reasons why child soldiers remain loyal to their leaders and what measures these authorities take to maintain the power and control in their societies. A stolen innocence morphed into immorality, young boys are turned from child to monster, “we were dangerous, and brainwashed to kill” (Beah, 2007). What motivates these children to fall into such savage behaviour, and how does the Lord's Resistance Army motivate and control its members? Simply put, the socialization of the boys plays an essential role in creating the allegiance and conformity that is most prevalent amongst these Rebel Groups. Therefore socialization is a crucial tactic used by leaders to benefit and improve the army. The role of a strong authority figure for a child, the primary socialization of children, and the process of socializat... ... middle of paper ... ...e, argues whether a child's behavioural patterns are affected by biological or societal factors (Hewitt et. al. 2008). This debate proves its longevity through the behaviour of child soldiers. It is clear that the boys are affected mainly by their socialization as soldiers, most social scientists agree that the nurturing and primary agents of socialization, are the most influential factors in a child's social development. It is clear that the influence of the LRA on the abducted children, impacts each child's future behavioural patterns, and their perspective on society. The role of the socialization of these children becoming soldiers, is highlighted as a very effective and useful technique to maintain the size and power of the Rebel Groups. It is evident that socialization of the child to solider is essential to achieve any goal of the Lord's Resistance Army.

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