|The Voices of Children at War|
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A PERFORMANCE ACTIVITY
MAIN READER: Today, while we are at school, more than 300,000 children under 18 are fighting and dying in armed conflicts around the world.
STAGE READER #1: In Myanmar, the army recruits street children as young as ten for use as human minesweepers.
STAGE READER #2: In Ethiopia, the government army forced thousands of high school students into the army where they were used in human wave attacks across minefields in the border war with Eritrea.
STAGE READER #3: In Iran, thousands of children under 15 have joined
the Saddam Lion Cubs, learning how to use small arms and engage in hand-to-hand
MAIN READER: You are about to hear some of the voices of these child soldiers. These are the real words of real children, who have experienced war first hand, not as civilians but as members of military forces. Listen to what they have to say to us.
STAGE READER #1: I don't understand why someone would use children in the military
STAGE READER #2: Children become soldiers when more and more adults are killed are wounded or when the war becomes more and more widespread.
STAGE READER #3: Children require fewer less food, clothing, and medicine, or at least they are powerless to demand more. Children are the cheapest of all soldiers.
STAGE READER #4: Children are easy to kidnap. And they are easy to bully
STAGE READER #3: Children can easily use many of the light modern automatic weapons. Forty years ago, a weapon weighed about 10 kilograms [22 pounds]. Now a weapon that can fire 60 bullets in a few seconds might weigh around 3 kilograms [6.6 pounds]. And these guns are cheap - often easier to obtain than a book or toy.
STAGE READER #4: Children provide free labor. They can cook and carry equipment and supplies. They can also be forced to become sexual partners for the soldiers.
STAGE READER #2: Children are usually obedient and easily "managed".
AUDIENCE READER: I am Olara Otunnu, UN Special representative for children in armed conflict. Chiefs of warfare reach out to children precisely because they are innocent, malleable, and impressionable. You can mold them into a ruthless and unquestioning instrument.
AUDIENCE READER: I am Moncef Khane, I work with Mr. Otunnu. Our investigations have shown that [t]he psychological defenses of a child are by definition weaker. This means that a child can be trained to do things that an adult might resist.
STAGE READER #1: But why do children agree to serve?
STAGE READER #3: Most child soldiers do not serve willingly. They are
kidnapped, often from their schools or homes, or forcibly recruited to
Felicity O. Yost. Source:
Marie, In the Shadow of the Lion, by Jerry Piasecki. © United