Should Child Soldiers Be Given Amnesty?

By Victoria Nguyen

Hailey Fox, Editor

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“Life is you go out, you shoot people, and do what the commanders tell you or they kill you,” (Beah, 2007). This is the life of a child soldier who was in the army at just 12 years old!  “Between 40 percent and 60 percent of militia members are children, many younger than 15,” (Morley, 2017). 40 and 60 percent! These children are basically puppets for the commanders sending them out to war. That’s just one of the reasons why child soldiers should be given amnesty. Child soldiers should be given amnesty because they aren’t morally responsible for what they’ve done. They have little to no choice in whether or not they enlist, and some kids don’t know any better.

Child soldiers should be given amnesty because they aren’t morally responsible for what they’ve done. According to the article “Pro/Con, Child soldiers should be prosecuted,”(2016), it states that “Children are often forced into fighting in a war”. These children are taken away from their homes to fight in a war they don’t want to be in and possibly didn’t even know about! Imagine a kid being taken away from their parents not knowing what’s going on or what’s happening next, and just being scared. The thing is most of us can’t even imagine it because our lives are nothing like that; no one’s life should be like that. And, these kids might not be in the right state of mind because of the drugs. “And then you’re fed drugs, and there’s always a way of killing people in front of you to desensitize you and you’re given more drugs,” (Beah, 2007). We already know that drugs have a huge effect on adults, but how can we blame these kids when the drugs probably have an even bigger effect on the kids’ brain. Especially when their brain isn’t as developed as an adults brain.

The next reason why child soldiers should be given amnesty is because they have little to no choice in which they enlist or not. “Some children get recruited by being abducted or beat,”(Child recruitment and, 2011). People will go to a far extent and torture children just to get kids to do dirty work for them. “Since 2013 more than 19,000 children have been recruited to South Sudan.”  “In Yemen the U.N has documented nearly 1,500 cases of child recruitment,” (Children,Soldiers and, 2017). Sadly we aren’t doing anything to stop this but we should be! And what sucks the most is that some kids go to the military base looking for protection. But little do they know, is that these people are going to take advantage of them and turn them into something they’re not, which is soldiers.

The last reason why child soldiers should be given amnesty is because they don’t know any better. Most of these kids are so young they’re mind isn’t even fully developed yet, they don’t know what’s wrong or right yet or even what’s going on. In the article “Pro/Con, Child Soldiers Should Be Prosecuted,” (2016), it explains that  “Child soldiers rarely have the same understanding of their decisions and actions as an adult would and should not be held responsible for their actions”. We shouldn’t expect kids to make a life or death decision at such a young age. And since the soldiers are kids, they’re used to following what adults say. “Children are considered “good soldiers” because they do what they are told, and vulnerable, so they are easy to intimidate.”(Children,Soldiers and, 2017). These are young people who barely know what they are walking right into. It’s like a never ending  black hole of confusion and fear.

It may be true that they’ve committed some of the worst crimes ever. “In Sierra Leone, child soldiers committed acts of rape, mutilation, and mass killings of victims,”(Child soldiers should, 2016). However, think about what’s causing them to do these actions and who’s influencing them. These kids are scared and all they want is to live long enough to get back to their families. But they only get to live if they commit these crimes. And they have to choose whether they do these actions or not, quickly because every second counts. One second they’re alive and the next it’s all over. Their lives are always at risk when their in the war and these kids have to make the decision of either kill or be killed. Which one would you choose?

In conclusion, child soldiers should be given amnesty because they aren’t morally responsible for what they’ve done. They have little to no choice in which they enlist, and some kids don’t know any better. Yes there are risks but there are always risks whenever a decision is made. And this decision might be worth the risk because many children are being saved who just want a better life away from war; and the traumatic events they’ve seen. Furthermore, in the future if there’s still concerns we should think about a better way to check these soldiers than just pushing them out. Such as seeing their mental state at the moment to check if they’re mad and want revenge or they just want to get away from war.  So we know what we’re going to do with these children instead of just thinking all of them are bad.