Shooting games – a reality to children in Africa

Blog post by Junis Wrobel / 17th March 2023

The shooting game “Fortnite” is able to record over 40 million users every month. Are you one of them too, or do you play other video games? The game is limited to an age level of 12 years, however, many children below this limit are playing Fortnite to appeal “cool” or “tough”. Ironically, what children in Western countries are fantasying about, is the real nightmare of children in Africa, South America and parts of Asia. Therefore, this article about child soldiers is meant to resolve this twisted misunderstanding.

Beginning with a short definition, the term “child soldier” is almost self-explanatory. Minors are used to carry out military orders. Not wanting to go into detail as these are very cruel, killing, torturing, and abducting should be mentioned. The use of children as soldiers is known in 14 countries like Colombia, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, and, since the war in Syria started, there as well. In addition, terror organizations like ISIS or the YPG use children as cheap “workers”. Literally being reduced to their value as cannon fodder, 12-year-olds are assigned to fight, kill themselves as suicide bombers, use their innocence to spy, act as human shields, or are even sexually abused. Consequently, they and their psyches are condemned to death and destruction.

Why would someone become a child soldier?

Unfortunately, militarization of children has been a problem for centuries. The areas concerned by this form of child labor are countries with a high insecurity level. Therefore, being afraid of the future or wanting to protect themselves and their families, children agree to join the military service. Or otherwise, they are simply forced to fight. Often, they are confronted with drugs like cocaine, used to brainwash them. Even though there are no absolute numbers, tens of thousands endure this fate. The current number is estimated to be around 300.000. In a nutshell, the recruitment of children is popular in conflict zones. Currently, these areas comprise 357 million children.

Why is nobody intervening?

Since the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, the term child soldier is defined and its practice was globally banned, it now counts as a war crime.  The problem is: Who tells a dictatorial, armed government, disregarding human rights, what they have to do? Thankfully, aid organizations like UNICEF and Amnesty International have made it their mission to free child soldiers and enable a new life for them by reintegrating them. But, after experiencing and practicing violence, children are suffering from mental and physical injuries, leading to disabilities and a disturbed mind.

Summing up all the important information, the usage of children as soldiers for cruel intentions is a larger problem than expected. Not only because they are exploited for international conflicts, but also are impaired in their mental development as they lose their youth.  Despite international agreements and the help of aid organizations, children still suffer illnesses of any kind.                       

I am sure what you just read did not leave you cold. How do you feel? Tell me about it in the comments! Personally, I realized how unfair and perverse our world is.                                             

Desmond Tutu, a South African civil rights activist once said:

“It means a great deal to those who are oppressed to know that they are not alone. Never let anyone tell you that what you are doing is insignificant.”

And what are we doing? The experience for which the one is paying money for is the thing the other one fears the most. Don’t you think the children in Syria and Somalia would be disappointed in us if they knew about this paradox? After seeing terrible pictures and video clips of child soldiers making confessions, I am disgusted by our Western video game consumption. If you are also touched by the fate of these children, donate. And if you can’t donate, educate. Educate yourself, educate others, reconsider your shooting game consumption, and tackle people romanticizing violence.

Source: (17.03.2023)

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