Historical Background

Does child soldiers a new or an old phenomenon? Singer2 claims that child soldiers are a relatively new phenomena distinctive for our century, while other scholars, like Eisenstrager3, Rosen4, and Brocklehurst5, argue that child soldiers have always been existed. Massey6 provides an example, that the use of children in wars were documented in the times of Ottoman Empire, the medieval Europe, and throughout the whole history of the humankind. However, according to  Eisenstrager3 the distinguishable feature of a “modern” child soldiers from their predecessors is the development of a relatively new concept of a childhood.

With the introduction of the “International Convention for the Rights of the Child” in November 20th, 1989, a person below the 18th years was recognized as holder of rights, and as objects of special care and attention. According to Eisenstrager3, Philippe Ariès (1996) was the first scholar who claimed that, “childhood is a modern invention”. According to Ariès “during medieval times children were regarded as mini-adults who did not have any different needs than adults, and that they were not protected against any of the aspects of adult life, such as for example, labour, sex and violence”3. Also, as stated by Rosen the introduction of the mass formal education that created a clear distinction of adulthood and childhood contributed to the concept of children as being “innocent” and “weak”4. Therefore, the current child soldiers crisis is explained by Brocklehurst 4  as the crisis of raising contradictions between the concept of the warfare and a Western concept of a childhood.


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