"I would like to give you a message. Please do your best to tell all the world what is happening to us children. So that other children don't have to pass through this violence."
-15-year-old girl abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army
|Adolescent boys wearing civilian clothes walk away from the weapons they once carried
as child soldiers after being evacuated from a combat zone in Sudan. More than 2,500 former
child soldiers have been airlifted out of conflict zones in Sudan and brought to safe
areas where rehabilitation and family-tracing programmes are now underway. Ranging in age from 8 to 18 years, the
children were demobilized from military camps run by the rebel Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army (SPLA). There are an estimated 9,000 child soldiers in various armed groups throughout Sudan.
Over 250,000 children under 18 are fighting in both government armies and armed opposition groups. Some children are kidnapped or forced to serve; others join up hoping to find food and shelter, help their families, or improve their lives.
Because of their emotional and physical immaturity, children are easy to manipulate and can be drawn into violence that they are too young to resist or understand. Both boys and girls may be sent to the front line of combat or into minefields ahead of older troops. Some have been used for suicide missions or forced to commit atrocities against their own families and neighbors. Others serve as porters, cooks, guards, servants, messengers, or spies. Many child soldiers, mostly girls, are also sexually abused.
Children are killed and wounded at far higher rates than their adult comrades. Those who survive often suffer trauma, injury, abuse, and psychological scarring from the violence and brutality they experience. Some are rejected by their families and communities. Most lose the opportunity to acquire an education, job skills, or any hope for the future.
The use of children to fight adults' wars is not limited
to a single country or continent, but has become a worldwide
problem. The problem is most critical in Africa and Asia,
though children are also used as soldiers by governments
and armed groups in many countries in the Americas, Europe
and the Middle East. However, the problem is not limited
to developing countries. Industrialised countries facing
personnel shortfalls have lso increased efforts to attract
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The Teacher’s Guide to Marie: In the Shadow
of the Lion contains suggestions for lesson plans
on each chapter of the book. Each lesson plan includes
comprehension questions, analysis/discussion questions,
writing prompts and exercises for role-plays.