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11 Facts About Child Soldiers

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  1. Child soldiers are any children under the age of 18 who are recruited by a state or non-state armed group and used as fighters, cooks, suicide bombers, human shields, messengers, spies, or for sexual purposes.^[Child Soldiers International UK. "About the Issues." Child Soldiers International. Accessed March 30, 2014. .]
  2. In the last 15 years, the use of child soldiers has spread to almost every region of the world and every armed conflict. Though an exact number is impossible to define, thousands of child soldiers are illegally serving in armed conflict around the world.^[Child Soldiers International UK. "About the Issues." Child Soldiers International. Accessed March 3, 2015. .]
  3. Some children are under the age of 10 when they are forced to serve.^[Child Soldiers International UK. "About the Issues." Child Soldiers International. Accessed March 30, 2014. .]
  4. Two-thirds of states confirm that enrollment of soldiers under the age of 18 should be banned to prohibit forced child soldiers, as well as 16- and 17-year-old armed force volunteers.^[Child Soldiers International UK. "About the Issues." Child Soldiers International. Accessed March 30, 2014. .]
  5. Children who are poor, displaced from their families, have limited access to education, or live in a combat zone are more likely to be forcibly recruited.^[Plan International USA. "What is a child soldier?." Plan USA. Accessed March 30, 2014. .]
  6. Children who are not forced to be soldiers volunteer themselves because they feel societal pressure and are under the impression that volunteering will provide a form of income, food, or security, and willingly join the group.^[United Nations Children's Fund. "Factsheet: Child Soldiers ." UNICEF. Accessed March 30, 2014. .]
  7. In the last 2 years, 20 states have been reported to have child soldiers in government, government-affiliated, and non-state armed groups. Additionally, 40 states still have minimum age recruitment requirements under 18 years.^[United Nations Children's Fund. "Factsheet: Child Soldiers ." UNICEF. Accessed March 30, 2014. .]
  8. Girls make up an estimated 10 to 30 percent of child soldiers used for fighting and other purposes. They are especially vulnerable when it comes to sexual violence.^["Declaration on accession to the Optional Protocol." UN General Assembly, Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, May 25, 2005. Accessed March 30, 2014. .]
  9. A few of the countries who have reported use of child soldiers since 2011 are Afghanistan, Colombia, India, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Pakistan, Thailand, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.^[Child Soldiers International UK. "FAQ." Child Soldiers International. Accessed March 30, 2014. .]
  10. Despite a government agreement in the District of Chad to demobilize the recruitment of child soldiers, there were between 7,000 and 10,000 children under 18 serving in combat and fulfilling other purposes in 2007.^[Child Soldiers International UK. "FAQ." Child Soldiers International. Accessed March 30, 2014. .]
  11. The recruitment of child soldiers breaks several human rights laws. Children who have committed crimes as soldiers are looked upon more leniently, crimes committed voluntarily are subject to justice under the international juvenile justice standards.^[UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. "CHAD: Children conscripted by poverty." IRIN Africa. Accessed March 30, 2014. .]
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