The use of children being kidnapped and forced to become trained soldiers is a wartime phenomenon that started to gain international attention during the latter half of the 20th century in Sierra Leone and also during the Rwandan genocide. Since that time multiple organizations have devoted efforts to stopping this horrible, war strategy not only in African countries, but all across the world examples of these child soldiers being used is happening.
This paper will examine one aspect of the child-soldier phenomenon, namely, their rehabilitation after they return from war. This is an area that has been studied less intensely. War is a very traumatic experience that can have long lasting effects on fully adult soldiers; According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, 11-20% of soldiers who fought in Operation Iraqi Freedom suffered post-traumatic stress disorder upon coming home from duty. The idea that an innocent child is subject to such experiences that can have such lasting affects is very alarming and worth looking into.
First, I will look into how these children are recruited into these situations, and try to understand why they decide to join war efforts and examine those who are also forced into war by way of kidnapping. This will help shed some light on possible hurdles that rehabilitation of these children has to overcome to ensure there is no possibility of re-enlisting by these children back into war. I will then follow this by examining how children are actually trained and utilized during war; including their various roles and duties that they are demanded to carry out as part of being a soldier; using firsthand accounts from former, child soldiers. Looking into this will help in learning the deeper roots of these former soldiers and figuring out if these learned habits early on in life can be changed into less violent mentality in later on during rehabilitation. Lastly, I will focus onto the rehabilitation stage and the measures that are taken to try to reintegrate these soldiers back to lead normal lives in society. The techniques and steps used for full reintegration into normal society could vary from person to person and seeing which method works best could help in better understanding the rehabilitation process itself.