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I'm Ellie, and I'm going to be doing my very first internship this summer. It's pretty exciting. I've never had an office job.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Children Soldiers Phenomenon

     In the movie Black Hawk Down, we see children fighting in the great (and cinematically pleasing) battle sequences. However, the concept of children as soldiers, like those in Somalia, raises quite a few concerns for Americans. Should American soldiers be able to kill children? When is it deemed acceptable? It is acceptable at all? Is it morally and ethically just to issue and/or follow "kill anything that moves" and "shoot to kill" orders when children are present? Is it okay when they are shooting at American soldiers? All of these are valid questions, and the answer is a difficult one for some to swallow. If the child has a gun, they are no longer a child, but an enemy soldiers. If it comes down to it, they must be killed so that they don't kill American soldiers.

     Marines are prepared in their training to face child soldiers. The article "What Marines Need To Know About Child Soldiers" asks very similar questions. "If a 14-year-old points a weapon at a serviceman, what should he do? No Marine, soldier, sailor, or airman wants to kill a 14-year-old. But a 14-year-old with an AK–47 is just as deadly as a 40-year-old with an AK–47. If the serviceman hesitates, he and others in his unit might be killed; if he shoots, then he might have to deal with the potential psychological consequences of killing a child." The CETO (Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities) has started offering seminars and education classes to educate Marines before they enter the battle field. There are numerous preventative measures that American soldiers can take before resorting to killing children, such as shooting from a distance to scare them and controlling the main recruitment zones for the failed states and totalitarian regimes.

     Children are being robbed of their innocence in more countries than just Somalia. Many sub-Saharan countries in Africa recruit children ages 18 and under to their ranks. The military is doing its best to prepare service men for what they will face, however, this does not make it any less difficult on the battle field. In the end, what has to be done must be done. If a soldier has a weapon aimed at him, it does not matter if the person holding it is 10 or 30 years old. He is the enemy and could potentially hurt American soldiers. The right thing is hard to do, that why it isn't called the easy thing. In war, the lines between right and wrong can become fuzzy, but one thing will always remain. No American soldier wants other Americans to die, therefore he will do what he must to protect his country.

For additional reading on why countries use children as soldiers, check out this very informative and interesting article I found from Oxford Journals.


  1. This post was very interesting to me and i think to the rest of the class. During our online discussion while watching Black Hawk Down this seemed to be what everyone was talking about. It truly is a very hard topic to distinguish what is right is wrong when it comes to killing children or children killing. It the particular circumstance in the movie I believe that soldier made the right choice. He had just killed possibly his father or brother and had been devastated. As you said these children have been robbed of their childhood and will never know the happiness that comes with good parents and a family. In stead of love these children were handed an AK-47. It is all because of the place they were born. That is why we should be thankful for the country we live in. Even though every one complains about this and that it could be a hell of a lot worse.

  2. Ellie, I agree with Nick on this. It is very interesting, but also a tough topic to talk about. Another example I remember from the movie is when a Somalian man is shot and a woman runs up and grabs his gun. The whole time the soldier who killed the man is saying don't do it! don't do it! He eventually has to kill the woman as well. I believe that we as Americans will never understand the reasons the children have to fight in these wars at such young ages. Like Nick said, we should all be very thankful for the country that we live in isn't like these other countries. It is truly a blessing just to live in the United States where we are free and we don't have to worry about us or our future children having to go fight in a war until they are at least 18.

    1. Exactly. It's like in The Walking Dead when Carl didn't kill that walker in the swamp and it came back and killed Dale. Then later, Rick didn't kill Shane and Shane almost killed him, and Rick was forced to kill Shane. And Andrea didn't kill The Governor and The Governor killed all of those people from Woodberry and caused the death of so many others, like Lori, T-Dog, and Merle. If the American soldiers don't kill the children, they could hurt even more American later.

  3. I agree with both Chance and Nick. These kids believe that they are doing what is right simply because they are told to do it by the adults. I feel sorry for the kids who have been robbed of a childhood because of the place they grew up. This is not their fight and they have no reason to be in a man's fight.