General Article FAQs about child soldiers

Topic Selected: War and Conflict
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Why do children join armed forces or armed groups?

Children join armed forces or groups for many reasons. In some situations children are forcibly recruited as a result of coercion, abduction or under threat of penalty. However, many children ‘volunteer’ often as a result of economic or social pressures, or because they believe the group will offer an income, food or security.

Children are particularly vulnerable to recruitment if they are poor, separated from their families, displaced from their homes, living in a combat zone or have limited access to education.

Is the child soldier problem worse among armed groups than government armed forces?

Child soldier use by non-state armed groups is widespread: dozens of groups are known to unlawfully recruit and use boys and girls. However, the record of some governments is also poor. Since 2010, child soldier use by 20 states has been reported either directly in government armed forces or indirectly in armed groups which they support ...

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