Introduction The topic for our Social Justice Campaign is Child Soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is a very important issue, and it is affecting over 300,000 kids in over 30 countries, but I’m specifically going to talk about the DRC. I hope you learn something new through this presentation, and find out how you can make a difference. Child Soldier: any person under the age of 18 that is a member of the armed forces.
Some facts about the Democratic Republic of Congo
Since 1998 in Congo an estimated 5.4 million people have died due to war related violence, disease and hunger.
50% of 1000 Congolese children under the age of 5 will die from malnutrition, AIDS, and other various diseases.
Only 29% of Congolese children complete their primary education
Their fertility rate is 6.28 children/women
Their official language is French
32.8% of the population is illiterate
If Child Soldiers return home from the war alive, they are all traumatized. Some children beat their heads against a wall until someone injects them with a tranquilizer
Some children don’t talk for days after they get home
Some children are rejected from their communities when they return home, girls in particular
Children live in fear of being recruited everyday, as children are easy targets for re-recruitment
Some children do not actually want to return home, because they’re scared of what will happen with their families
Some children actually get used to life in the army and don’t want to go home and face poverty
They have no apatite for weeks, sometimes as a result of suddenly not having drugs
They never will get over the hardships that relate to being a child soldier
Childhoods are completely ruined, and for the most part that means their adulthoods are also ruined.
Female child soldiers who have been raped are not accepted back into their communities and families as they are no longer virgins, meaning they are also no longer marriageable.
Children deal with psychological issues for life, and need very large amounts of therapy.
Children often result to drugs and prostitution if they are rejected from their communities and even if they’re not rejected
Children are recruited as many different positions for the war.
Children are not bait.
Some positions that children are recruited for are…
Kids also join the armed forces for different reasons. Children
Feel obligated to fight for their country
Feel pressured or are forced by their parents
The majority of child soldiers were kidnapped from their communities
Children are manipulated and used for thing beyond army positions . Female child soldiers deal with extreme sexual exploitation, as well as domestic slavery. Female child soldiers often return home pregnant, or with sexually transmitted infections, that is if they return home. Child soldiers are often manipulated into being sex slaves for adult soldiers. In most communities in Congo, for some female child soldiers, rape is a regular part of life, as it generally goes unpunished. About 40% of child soldiers are female Out of nine child soldiers that were brought home, three of them were pregnant, according to Save the Children.
An organization called the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) is helping child soldiers and helping to reduce the number of them.
The DDR works to stop the use of child soldiers.
They have things for the kids such as…
School for those who want go to school
Movies where there is electricity
Group and private therapy
Economic development and peace-building initiatives
They bring as many children home as they can, and work to reintegrate them into society. Which can be extremely difficult, because every kid is different and they all have different issues, such as physical and psychological problems.
There are many organizations that are helping child soldiers in many ways.
There are a number of organizations working towards a goal, which is pretty much the same in all of them. Organizations like Unicef, United Nations, Oxfam, DDR, Amnesty International, and many others are working to…
What you can do There are a number of organizations working and helping and child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Make a donation, write a letter, or call. If you want to make a difference, you can contact one of these organizations, such as…
According to UNICEF, 30000 child soldiers were demobilized in June of 2005
Children make up about 40% of the army in Congo
The life expectancy rate is only 54.8 years
Children life with a 50% chance of being enslaved and threatened by an armed group
Children have a 1 in 3 chance of being abused and wounded and tortured
There is a 12% chance that children will be raped multiple times
Conclusion As you’ve hopefully learned, there are thousands and thousands of children all over the world that live extremely difficult lives, that no child should ever have to unwillingly go through. Think of a regular day in your life. It doesn’t involve being kidnapped, living in fear of being kidnapped, being raped, shooting at people in war, being used as bait, and going through therapy because you’ve seen multiple people shot to death (some of which, children as young as 8 years old), or killing people, as young as 8 years old. I can only imagine how terrible that would be, and by learning so much about Child Soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo I know I will try to make a difference, and I hope you’ve learned something through this presentation. Thank you for listening, I hope you’ll consider taking my recommendations on how you can help and make a difference. And remember, Every Child Has A Right To A Childhood