Natalia Springer, a political scientist and local columnist, wrote a report, “Like Lambs Amongst Wolves,” which highlighted some alarming statistics about child soldiers.
Over 40,000 Colombian children are currently at risk of being recruited.
Sixty-five percent of all recruitment happens between the ages of 6 and 14. This is younger than before.
Four of every 10 combatants in the ELN, the FARC, and the paramilitary are children.
- 42 percent of the FARC
- 44 percent of the ELN
- 40 percent of the paramilitary
- More than 50 percent of the bacrim (“bandas criminales,” or paramilitary splinter groups).
Indigenous children are 674 percent more likely to be recruited.
The children of rural campesino farmers are the most vulnerable for recruitment.
Children in cities are now 17 times more likely to be recruited than four years ago. Most of these children were displaced from their rural homes — and in some cases, their families abandoned their land precisely to prevent guerrillas from taking their children.
Springer came up with these statistics by analyzing the dates in which demobilized combatants entered illegal armed groups.
She also interviewed jailed commanders who were once in charge of child recruitment, and found out commanders exploit laws that protect children. For example, commanders know that if a child is captured, authorities cannot interrogate the child because he is a minor.
In combat, children are the first line of defense and hence, are more likely to be killed. Children are also in charge of planting land mines.