Throughout the world, child soldiers are being used more commonly in armed conflicts. Be it with the government in which they have to fight or a terrorist organization forcefully taking them from family. This has created an international debate as to whether these children are criminals deserving of persecution or are they innocent children from nearby countries caught up in war and killings. Today around the world there “…are more than 300,000 children fighting in armed conflict around the world”; many “below the age of fifteen, with some as young as seven or eight” (COHA). Many children enter various armed groups, civil militia, paramilitaries, and government armed forces (COHA) where they usually partake in killing and are used as spies more commonly. These children are victims of war and are used as pawns for fighting and therefore do deserve our amnesty even if they have committed crimes.
Child soldiers deserve amnesty because they are being pushed into fighting by their parents. Many are being forced by parents since “…parents can’t find food for their children, so they push them into armed groups to get money and food” (Biggs). Children are victims and they’re forcefully in here so their family can eat and be out of poverty. A lot of this comes from the belief that states that sons are supposed to be the sole breadwinners of the family. By choosing to leave and not fight they are putting shame on their family as well as themselves because they’re not feeding them. Additionally, it’s said the “parents find it unacceptable if the child’s cousin is holding a gun and a child isn’t” (Biggs). This can cause a lot of mental stress because of the pressure to become a good soldier as well as keeping one’s family name high and not embarrassing them in front of other family members. Also, to add they are being isolated by their own family from the things that make a kid a kid which also leads to stress. And forcing them to become this painted false image. Lastly, many parents are forcing kids in for money so that they can feed themselves since “ISIS typically pays between $250 and $350 per child per month” (Hanoush). Forcefully stealing their childhood is no better than abusing children. Instead of letting them live life, their parents are forcing them to pick up guns and partake in the killing just for necessities they shouldn’t be fighting for. Because of the parent’s greediness, small children are being forced to kill instead of write and read.
Another reason they deserve amnesty is that they are being manipulated with different principles to get them to work at such a young age. Firstly, they are told that “they earn paradise if they carry guns and kill people” (Biggs). Using false religion to manipulate is bad, because the children then lose all sight of right or wrong and think, that bad will lead them to God. They’re also at an age where they just want to prove themselves to the adults in their life by becoming what the adults want them to be no matter what it is, so they do what they are told. Commanders also threaten the kids and say “if you don’t listen you will die” Doing this can lead to a child’s brain to completely deform. In which they start to lose focus on everybody and everything else. They also blindly start to trust the commanders and obey all and every order presented to them doesn’t matter if its good or bad because that’s all they know and are taught. Lastly, they are also being told that “combat is the only honorable path available for them” (Hanoush). Children’s brains aren’t formed yet so therefore they just trust people blindly. And they want the person that’s telling them this to like them so they do what’s being told. Children are being manipulated and used because children can’t differ right and wrong for the commander’s own good.
Some people might argue that child soldiers don’t deserve amnesty because they also partake in killing people. Many children are “Armed with assault rifles and trained to kill, some have become as ruthless as the adults they fight alongside” (Austin). The children do join and choose to kill and become ruthless. It is true that there is no excuse for killing 100 civilians from the southern region of Sudan (Austin). They are only doing this to fight for survival. If they become and weak and intimated the others can easily take advantage to hurt and torture them. They kill these people to show dominance because that’s the only way they are taught. Another child soldier was also “forced to set a house on fire burning alive everyone inside” (Mednick). Doing this was also wrong and he should have thought more logically. But again, he was forced to do this because another soldier was killed just for refusing to do his chores and he didn’t want that to be him (Mednick). The soldier even after being rescued still has nightmares about that day. He wouldn’t have felt this much guilt, if that was the choice, he made on his own knowing what would happen. But here that’s not the case his only choice was death or killing them. As a child, one can’t distinguish between right and wrong and he was under pressure which made his mind not be able to think logically. These children shouldn’t be punished for something that has already been hurting them.
So, in conclusion punishing these poor children for something they had no choice over is wrong. These children are not only manipulated but used as pawns for their parents, the government and many terrorist organizations like ISIS for money and power. They are young and don’t know the consequences of their dire actions and in fact, they find it fun due to the attention and finally becoming a ‘man’. Therefore, they deserve our amnesty even if they did kill people. They were forced and manipulated into going there and committing the crimes to feed their families or had no family and felt this was the only safe alternative to stay alive.