Introduction

Smiling, sad, excited, disappointed, going to school, or …carrying the guns–these are some of the images of children that one might see on TV or the Internet.  While each of the images might evoke different feelings, most probably the image of a kid carrying a gun would be among the most shocking one.

For quite some time in the history an international community was picturing a child soldier to be a child (mainly a boy) carrying a gun. Yet this narrow view on the problem raised many concerns and debates. Why? Because the rehabilitation programs for former child soldiers were devoted to only those children who had guns, while ignoring children who served in different roles within the armed groups. Especially, it was true in case of the girls who often were not carrying guns, but served as cooks, or sex slaves (bush wives).

As the result in February 2007, the global community reexamined the definition of a child soldier. In a new definition, a child soldier was described as any boy or a girl associated with an armed group, who served as a fighter, cook, porter, sex slave, spy, or in any other role1.

Up to date, the Internet and the mass media often portray child soldiers, as children with guns. However, it is important to remember that child soldiers are also those who serve in any other capacity within the armed forces.

 

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