Children in war : a discussion of child soldiers and the concept of childhood
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Children and young people are affected by conflict in numerous ways, and are seen as constituting one of the groups that are referred to as the primary victims during and after war and conflict. In contemporary conflicts, children and youth are directly partaking in actions, and some as soldiers. Children serving as soldiers are not something new as such, but despite the international efforts in prohibiting the use of children in war, it is still the reality for many children around the globe. The reasons for the recruitment of children are many, which are based on political, religious, social and economic aspects. The perceptions related to children as being innocent, weak and vulnerable also reflects why children are involved as soldiers in war and conflict, since children are therefore seen as easier to recruit and to adapt to the circumstances brought by conflict within a rebel group. The children serving for these groups experience a lot of violence and horrible situations, and are witnesses and performers of atrocities such as killings, rapes and looting of communities. The life of a child soldier is therefore contradicting with what is expected and perceived as an ideal childhood. Child soldiers are agents in conflict and war, although not legally. Their actions are challenging our perceptions of children, since it is the opposite of innocence, weakness, and even vulnerability. Therefore, the agency of child soldiers is a site of knowledge in understanding international relations, as they are actors that shapes state behavior.