March 8, 2009

Stop the Use of Child Soldiers

The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers is an organization that works to stop the use of recruitment and use of children as spies and soldiers for many of our worlds poorest countries. Organized in May of 1998, the organization works in Africa, Asia, Latin America and throughout the Middle East to recruit members to lead the fight against the disgrace that is child soldiers. It's ultimate goal is to establish laws in every nation that would prevent the use of children for any military purpose.

In October of 2008, the coalition celebrated a victory when then President George W. Bush signed into law the Child Soldiers Accountability Act, which allows the U.S. to prosecute any American who knowingly recruits anyone under the age of 15 for military purposes, even if that child is outside the United States. It also allows for the deportation, or denial of entry, for anyone who has recruited anyone age 15 or younger for military purposes.

While the coalition may be celebrating this victory from last October, it is clear that it was not enough. If the United States is just now getting around to address this issue on her soil, there is clearly some work to do abroad. Despite near universal condemnations, the use of tens of thousands of children for military purposes still remains.
The movie "Blood Diamond" starring Leonardo DeCaprio shows Hollywood's take on the epidemic, but the reality is far worse. Visit the sites below for images, facts, stories, and read the 2008 child soldiers global report. Hear the words of child soldiers themselves and see what you can do to help. If you are fortunate enough to teach geography or global studies, take your students to the coalitions website and educate them about the crises.

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