Why Are Child Soldiers Used?
Why is the country that your class has chosen using child soldiers? To find out, you need to research the following question:
What are the social, geographical, historical, and other factors
that lead to the use of child soldiers in this country?
Finding answers to this question will help you understand the country's conflict and why child
soldiers are being used. Keep track of what you learn by filling in the forms on the next page, as you'll be referring back to this information for the rest of the WebQuest.
Your teacher may ask you to work in groups
for this step.
Start by getting a detailed description of
the use of child soldiers and a summary of armed conflict in the
country your class has chosen from the Child Soldiers Global
Report 2004. You may want to
supplement information from this site with research gathered from
other online resources, like national newspapers and other reputable periodicals. Ask your
school librarian for help finding such sources.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the country's conflict, explore how the
country's location, history, and social conditions may have influenced both the
conflict and its use of child soldiers. For example, Afghanistan's
rugged geography makes conquest and unification of the country very
difficult. This may create obstacles to resolving conflicts peacefully. By consistently resolving conflict through force, a country may have to relay on younger and younger soldiers.
Consider the topics and questions below, as you do your research:
1. Geography: What region is the country
in? What countries surround it? What are the major cities, geographical
features (e.g. mountains), climate, crops, and natural resources in
the country? How might its location contribute to war and
the use of child soldiers? How does climate and climate change relate to issues of war and peace? Have natural resources (e.g., the scarcity
of water) been a source of conflict?
An excellent resource for geography profiles of countries is Encarta.
Type in the country name in the search box, and then click on “Land
2. History and Politics: What kind of government
does the country have? What recent historical events have shaped its
current affairs? Has its political situation been a source
of conflict, either within the country or with other countries? What
kinds of conflicts has the country been engaged in over time?
Use Encarta for researching these
questions as well. Type in the country name in the search box, and
then click on “Government” and “History.”
3. Society and Economics: What is life like
for people in this country? For example, what is the average income
of families? What is the infant mortality rate, average level of literacy,
national debt, etc.? How might these social conditions lead to war
and the use of child soldiers? What religions are found here? How
many different ethnic groups live in the country? Have cultural differences
historically been a source of conflict? Get profiles on a wide range of
statistics from Cyberschoolbus’ Country
at a Glance,
statistical database or the Economist. You can also get information about the country's culture and ethnic groups
||A boy soldier holding a rifle stands in a
row with other child soldiers, members of the government-allied
Kamajor (civil defense forces in the south), during a training
session near a centre run by the Christian Brothers, a local
NGO that works with unaccompanied, abused and street children,
as well as former child soldiers, in the southern town of Bo.
By late 1998, destruction of the basic infrastructure in Sierra
Leone since the May 1997 coup d' tat (the elected government
was restored in February 1998) has created a devastating situation,
especially for children. Some 4,000 children, aged 7-17, have
been recruited on both sides of the still unresolved conflict.
| Children account for half of
all those killed during the conflict, and of the estimated 20%
of the population disabled by the fighting, the majority are
children. Fewer than half eligible children attend primary school.
UNICEF assistance includes support for primary health care and
immunization, basic education, rehabilitation of water and sanitation
facilities, therapeutic food supplies for malnourished children
and mothers, and psychosocial counseling for war-traumatized
children. In addition, UNICEF continues to coordinate the demobilization
of child soldiers and supports the registration, tracing and
family reunification of unaccompanied children, as well as providing
Felicity O. Yost. Source:
Marie, In the Shadow of the Lion, by Jerry Piasecki. ©
United Nations, 2001