Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | June 19, 2012

Experts explain why children join armed groups

Here is an analysis about child soldiers that is worth reading.

Professor Daya Somasundaram and Dr. Ruwan M. Jayatunge ask, “Why do children join armed groups”? In their words:

  • “War results in collective trauma, a breakdown of family and community processes, support structures and networks, ethical and moral values, cohesion and purpose. In this uncertain, insecure and hopeless environment, children are more likely to look for alternate opportunities, follow alluring possibilities and be compelled to make unwholesome choices. Brutalization resulting from growing up with violence, impunity and injustice with vulnerability, fear for their safety and real threats would motivate them to protect themselves (and in their imagination, their families and community) with arms and training.”
  • “Displaced families, without incomes, jobs and food may encourage one of their children to join so that at least they have something to eat. For the more conscious and concerned children, seeing or experiencing these deprivations for their family and community would push them into joining an armed resistance group.”
  • “Oppressive social practices where the lower classes and castes are suppressed by the higher, who hold power and authority. For many from the lower classes, joining then becomes a way out of this oppressive system. Similarly, for younger females who experience the patriarchal oppression against their sex, it is a means of escape.”
  • “Public displays of war paraphernalia, funerals and posters of fallen heroes; speeches and videos, particularly in schools; heroic, melodious songs and stories, drawing out feelings of patriotism and creating a martyr cult  create a compelling milieu.”


U.S.-funded Prof. Daya Somasundaram at Adelaide University studies trauma of Sri Lankan Civil War.

The Tragedy of War

Personal page and articles by Dr. Ruwan M. Jayatunge M.D.

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