A Prince Albert Collegiate Institute Grade 12 English Language Arts A30 class taught by Evonne Garrett worked with Daily Herald managing editor Perry Bergson last month on writing editorials for newspapers. Over the next month we’ll give them a chance to speak up on issues that are meaningful to them. This one was written by Wendell MacDonald
What would you feel if Canada was in the middle of a Civil War, and your little brother or sister was forced to pick up a gun and fight?
Despite an internationally known treaty, children all over the world are fighting someone else’s war, and most have no idea this is going on.
One hundred years ago it would have been futile to give a child a weapon and ask him to fight; but the invention of guns has brought them to the forefront. Children are now more of a part of our conflicts than any other time; in the past two years 20 states have reported the use of children in state or non-state governed groups.
In desperate places like Africa or South America, at times when school bells are ringing and pencils are scribbling, a child abducted from home, school, or off the streets is being recruited. Some not even tall enough to ride a rollercoaster are given automatic rifles and asked to fight.
How could someone choose a child over a full grown adult?
The warlords and generals responsible overlook everything a child should be, and see only their simple minds and body. How could we stand by and let these children be brainwashed and intimidated into silence, when Canada is known to be a beacon of peace?
According to Warchild.org, there are an estimated 250,000 child soldiers today, and many more are in danger of recruitment. It is estimated that 100-150 million children in the world are homeless.
They are children with no school, no parents, nobody to tell them right from wrong, and yet they’re being treated no differently on the battlefield.
In the case of Afghanistan, they are being sent to prisons full of murderers and rapists, by Coalition forces, people unaware of their situation.
They are being executed in countries like China, Iran, Pakistan and Sudan.
Child offenders, like any other person young or old, have the power of choice, but as children their choices take little into account. They don’t consider the repercussions of their actions, what they do and how it would affect them.
Children involved in war today have no right to fight for others, and others have no right to ask children to fight. However you look at it, whether against their will or voluntarily, the use of children in war is something we need to leave behind in the 21st Century.