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A Chinese Nationalist soldier, age 10, member of a Chinese division from the X Force, boarding planes in Burma bound for China, May 1944.

The military use of children takes three distinct forms: children can take direct part in hostilities (child soldiers); they can be used in support roles such as porters, spies, messengers, lookouts; or they can be used for political advantage [either] as human shields and/or in propaganda.

Throughout history and in many cultures, children have been extensively involved in military campaigns even when such practices were against cultural morals.<ref name="Wessells">{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> In WW1, in Great Britain 250,000 boys under 19 managed to join the army.<ref>'How did Britain let 250000 underage soldiers fight in WW1? - BBC,' BBC News</ref> In WW2, child soldiers fought throughout Europe, in the Warsaw Uprising,<ref>Norman Davies,Rising '44: The Battle for Warsaw, Pan Books 2004 p.603</ref> in the Jewish resistance,<ref>David M. Rosen,Armies of the Young: Child Soldiers in War and Terrorism, Rutgers University Press 2005 pp.54-55:'The participation of Jewish children and youth in warfare was driven by a combination of necessity, honor, and moral duty.'</ref> and in the Soviet Army.<ref>Olga Kucherenko,Little Soldiers: How Soviet Children Went to War, 1941-1945, Oxford University Press 2011</ref> Since the 1970s, a number of international conventions have come into effect that try to limit the participation of children in armed conflicts, nevertheless the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers reports that the use of children in military forces, and the active participation of children in armed conflicts is widespread.

According to Wessels (1997), "The use of children in armed conflict is global in scopeā€”a far greater problem than suggested by the scant attention it has received. Child soldiers are found from Central America to the Great Lakes region of Central Africa, and from Belfast in the north to Angola in the south" ( p. 2). Children are easy targets to recruit for military purposes because of their vulnerability to influence. Many are seized and recruited by force whereas others join to escape their reality and circumstances.<ref name="Wessells"/>


Military use of children sections
Intro  International law  Nations and groups involved in military use of children  Movement to stop military use of children  History  Reintegration of child soldiers  See also  Further reading  References  External links  

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