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February 1999
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Stop Using Child Soldiers:
New U.S. Campaign Develops
updated March 2000

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Wars, declared and undeclared, have taken their toll on today's youth. It is estimated that more than two million children under eighteen years of age have been killed, and another six million seriously injured or permanently disabled, in armed conflict in the past decade.
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Swedish Save the Children: Maintains a database and a newsletter (Children of War) on the child soldier issue

Facts and Statistics
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child soldiers: law and policy

Increasingly young people have become combatants, not just victims. More than 300,000 children under the age of eighteen are currently fighting in conflicts around the world. Alongside this trend there has been a dramatic increase in the proportion of war victims who are civilians - increasing from 14% of all casualties in WWI to 90% of casualties in the 1990's.

The impacts of war on youth are wide-ranging, affecting psycho-social development, health care (due to the destruction of health facilities, spread of diseases, etc.), gender-based violence (rape, child victims of prostitution and sexual exploitation), education (disruptions in schooling) and other areas of life. These are felt long after the fighting stops.

New Campaigns

An international movement has emerged to challenge the practice of engaging young people as combatants. In January 200, after six years of negotiation, some progress was made in the international arena. See Protecting Children from War (March 2000 issue). In the United States, a new U.S. Campaign to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers has been formed.

The campaign works to:

  • secure U.S. ratification of the new (January 2000) child soldiers protocol;
  • eliminate U.S. military aid that facilitates the use of child soldiers by other governments of armed political groups;
  • increase U.S. governmental and non-governmental support for programs to prevent recruitment and to provide for the demobilization, rehabilitation, and social integration of child soldiers; and
  • raise the U.S. enlistment age to 18.
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