Children and War: Red Hand Day 12 Feb
How children respond to war and violence is interesting and worth our attention. Article 38 and 39 in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) deal with 'children in armed conflict'.
Article 39 declares that: States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of a child victim of: any form of neglect, exploitation, or abuse; torture or any other form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; or armed conflicts. Such recovery and reintegration shall take place in an environment which fosters the health, self-respect and dignity of the child.
Sadly this task falls to the bottom of the pile, as it can only start when peace is achieved. At the best of times (and even for adult conscripted soldiers involved in war) full 'forgive-and-forget' rehabilitation is a tall order. Perhaps this is why some wars continue generation after generation.
I came across another old exhibition of drawings by children collected by Human Rights Watch in Darfur in 2005. There are small interviews with the children under each drawing.
The Optional Protocol to the CRC is about children in armed conflict, and has been signed by all countries (including the US, the only country with Somalia to have not signed the Convention). It lays out protection guidelines for child soldiers, another important group of children that the Amnesty Children's Rights Network have decided to dedicate their activist efforts too. For more information, go to http://www.redhandday.org/ for planned actions in early 2010.
I have also found an interesting article about the use of child soldiers in Yemen. As the events of Christmas Day in Detroit airport illlustrate, young people's minds are extremely influenced by propaganda and violence, and will be easily conscripted to join adult wars.
AFP has published an article declaring that at least three children die a day in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have no concern for medical or educational welfare.
Perhaps adults are simply too busy trying to win unwinnable wars against each other to remember to send their children to school… Or perhaps it is school (or University) that is feeding children dangerously skewed histories and prejudices?
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