Although there are no exact figures, hundreds of thousands of children under the age of 18 serve in government forces or armed rebel groups. Some are as young as eight years old (hrw). Children are typically used in three ways: as active participants in hostilities (child soldiers), as support roles (porters, spies, messengers, look outs), or they can be used for political advantage either as human shields or in propaganda (wiki).
For my white paper, I plan to research the ethical issues surrounding military use of children, specifically in Africa. I think calling the topic an “ethical dilemma” would be an understatement. This topic is still tentative, but I think it would be an interesting subject to explore further.
There are a lot of societal pressures resulting from military use of children. In many cases, children are taken from their homes in the middle of the night, or kidnapped from their towns. After a few weeks of training and brainwashing, they are often brought back to their homes to kill their own parents. This is a tactic used to break all connections between their old lives at home and their future one with the army. I also question the governmental impact of this issue. Many of the countries in which child soldiers are plagued with corruption. Although the government may not outwardly support child soldiers, but they may not do much to quell the problem. The business impact is where I am getting a little stuck. If the different armies (whether they be the official country’s army or the rebels) represent the “businesses,” the positives and negatives will be clear.