While the thought of forming rebel groups of soldiers made up of young children may be a startling and upsetting thought for Americans, it can be normal in other countries. While there is no firm statistic about how many child soldiers there are in the world, the Coalition To Stop the Use of Child Soldiers has estimated that there are thousands of child soldiers in many foreign countries.
The Coalition To Stop the Use of Child Soldiers is one of the main organizations that exists to try and eradicate the use of child soldiers all over the world. By their standards, anyone who is in government armed forces or any other type of armed force and is under the age of 18 is a child soldier. This includes membership in an unofficial political rebel army.
Child soldiers have all the responsibilities that adult soldiers have and more. Both male and female child soldiers are required to engage in combat, lay explosives, and perform forced sexual acts. Many child soldiers are recruited into rebel armies rather than governmental ones.
This is only one of the reasons why getting statistical evidence of child soldiers is impossible. Government armed forces will hide the use of children from the public. Also, because a child soldier may not be recruited officially, there will be no documentation on their enrollment.
Some countries are well-known for using a large number of child soldiers. The region with the most child soldiers is Africa. There, enemy countries with child soldiers will be expected to engage in combat with one another. There are also many child soldiers spread across Asia and Afghanistan.
There is some conflict over what the punishment of a child soldier who commits a heinous crime should be; while the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers does believe that a child soldier should be protected from punishment on the basis that he or she is a victim of the armed forces recruiter, they do recognize that there should be consequences for child soldiers who joined an army or political rebel group voluntarily.
However, they believe that any criminal prosecution should be kept at a minimum and that most child soldiers should be returned to their communities and families.
While there are laws made to prevent children from joining any armed forces group, protecting these child soldiers is not an easy task. Countries that are constantly at war will gather as many soldiers as they can to fight, whether or not the individual is a child soldier.