From Publishers Weekly
Over six million child combatants were killed or injured in the past decade. In this groundbreaking and comprehensive study, Singer, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and former adviser to the U.S. military, explores the rise and expansion of child soldiery. Children, Singer finds, enter armies and militias in numerous ways: as voluntary soldiers, indoctrinated to kill; as involuntary soldiers, forced into the militia or military by cruel adults; as child-terrorists; as members of all-child armies (such as the Hitler Youth); and as sexual slaves for superior officers. Singer (Corporate Warriors
) explores different means of training and indoctrination, often through interviews with child-soldiers, as well as with adults who have fought against them and others who have tried to rehabilitate children forced into warfare. In the concluding section, Singer notes that instruments of international law such as the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child prohibit the use of child-combatants, but that these treaties have been ineffective in actually reducing the prevalence of child-soldiers. One hope is that the new International Criminal Court will be empowered to punish those who recruit children and send them into battle. However they seek to accomplish their goal, activists will be aided by the diligent research and reasoned analysis provided by Singer's study, as will those who fund their work—i.e., anyone who gives to international aid organizations.
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*Starred Review* "The rebels told me to join them, but I said no. Then they killed my smaller brother. I changed my mind," explains "L," age seven, in Singer's chilling study of the now-conventional use of children in modern warfare. Some 43 percent (157 of 366) of all armed organizations around the world--from Sierra Leone to Colombia, Sri Lanka to the Congo, Liberia to Sudan--use child soldiers, 90 percent of whom see battle. In the last decade, more than 2 million children have been killed in combat, a rate of some 500 per day. Singer, National Security Fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution, came upon the phenomenon when the soldiers he interviewed for his first book, Corporate Warriors
told him of seeing so many child adversaries. Here he details many of the underlying causes of the practice, and he explains how the children are recruited, often simply by whether they are strong enough to carry a weapon. He explores the full implications for using children in combat and discusses how the problem can be addressed, such as treating it as a war crime and punishing those leaders responsible. He neglects to say, though, that the abuse is first and best addressed by exposing it to world scrutiny, which this thoughtful and heartfelt book will do. Alan MooresCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved