My new friend's experiences (see Gitmo post) prompted me to do some research concerning children and war.
I found that most of the world's children do not experience childhood in the same way the U.S., Canada, or England and some of the other westernized countries experience childhood.
For many children around the world, childhood has become non-existent except for physical body development. Research has shown that the brain of a human being is not fully developed until at least late teens or even early twenties. What happens when a child experiences war as a victim or as a child soldier? Truthfully, I don't know - but I do know that around the world millions of children are abducted and forced into fighting wars and they lose their childhood very early in life. Some studies have shown them to be unable to integrate back into a non-war life, probably because of the ongoing horror and trauma of war.
Other research has shown that trauma experienced as a child through abuse, accidents, any trauma - may actually change the chemical structure of the child's brain which affects the bodily systems as well.
The U.N. has certain standards that, when captured in war, child soldiers must be returned to their own country. A friend of mine recently informed me that the U.S. did indeed return some children who were inducted by the terrorists and captured with those terrorists, back to their home country from Gitmo. In researching this subject,it seems the U.N. is busily working on an organized system to make this happen world-wide, as much as possible. Some countries refuse to comply with any U.N. standards.
Since my blog acts also as my "diary," I think I will use the next few posts on this, while much of the world mourns Michael Jackson's demise, I'll swim against the stream as usual and mourn for children who have lost their innocence and even their lives. In a way, this will also be my tribute to Farrah Fawcett, a valiant woman, also a celebrity of an era who stood for several causes, including the mistreatment of women and children....and later, cancer.
Here we go......"Many underdeveloped countries are involved in ethnic conflicts in which many innocent, unarmed civilians are killed. In recent decades war victims who are civilians has gone up incredibly high from 5% to 90%.(Defense Monitor) Worst of all, children are increasingly being used as combatants and fighting in these wars themselves. In most armed conflicts right now the number of children under eighteen are active in the army, and in many countries these child soldiers are under fifteen. (Defense Monitor) According to the most recent annual human rights report the U.S. State Department an estimated quarter of a million children, even as young as six have served in armed conflicts. These children are invisible for they spend most of their time in remote conflict zones that are away from the public and media. It's hard to find the children after wars for either they are killed, they vanish, or have been abandoned. What is really sad is that these children grow into teenagers and become more invisible from the outside world. These little children become adults locked within a child's body. Child soldiers are usually recruited because there aren't enough adults who are available or willing to become soldiers. Some are kidnapped, others are forced to join groups, and some even volunteer. Once recruited as soldiers children generally are treated as adults and are often inducted into brutal ceremonies, and are often humiliated and embarrassed. (Defense Monitor) Child soldiers suffer many of the same physical and psychological effects that war brings to noncombatant children. They are separated from their parents and lose their homes. They are exposed to violence, death, and are often permanently disabled. (Defense Monitor) Physical injury also carries additional emotional, psychological, and social disadvantages. (Defense Monitor) Yet the most severe long term consequences of children serving as soldiers may be their moral development. When the fighting ends it's very hard to place these kids back in a home surrounding, or school surrounding and expect them to adjust. They are in fear all of the time, and have a difficult time switching over from a non-violent life style if they are even to adjust at all. Governments must take or assist in the appropriate measures to promote children's physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration."