The consistent and continuing armed conflict in the world often takes its toll on the weaker groups. One of the most affected of these sections is the child. The use of children in military actions, paramilitary, armed conflict or any kind of warfare is illegal and internationally prohibited. However, the fighting functions in the world have exploited the deficiencies in systems and lack of regulatory and prohibition bodies to facilitate the use of child soldiers. This has had a negative effect on the development of the child, often with the result that the children become war like with a liking for wars and combat. This paper would discuss the issues at hand drawing a relation to the Social Exchange theory in explaining the acquired tendencies of the child.
The social exchange theory advances the fact that social stability and changes in
Social circles are consequent of negotiated exchanges between parties. In that breadth, social exchanges theory asserts that parties within the society would likely interact and develop different tendencies in seeking for a balance that informs stability. Social exchange theory, therefore, refers to the interaction or actual exchange. The people in the community or society trade among each other various characters or aspects. Often, the superior character in the exchange takes priority over the inferior formation and character. This is to say that the interacting characters and exchanges compete for adoption and the superior character takes precedence over all the other present characters. In the long run, social exchange theory allows for the character that was superior in the community.
In analysis, one needs to put this into the war perspective. In a conflict prone area, the interacting situations would include war. Parties in the society would engage in war activities often in the false belief that it forms the most superior method to gain control, freedom and actualization. In other words, the war often is the superior character. The communities in interaction are often embracive of the war. However, it should be noted that this war ordinarily does not include only adult engagement. In these conflict areas, a lot is often at stake. In their efforts to gather all the possible benefits, the organizations or the communities in conflict often engage children in war. They approach warfare with the belief that it contains all the necessary solutions to the community and so all community members must participate. This ingrains into children the culture and association with war. Initially, it begins with mere praise and desire to engage in the war. However, with the passage of time and a consistent interaction with warfare, war becomes the genome of the child. The child grows up in the false belief in the powers of war. Ordinarily, the child would only apply warlike approaches in handling the enemy. However, soon the enemy is either subdued or out of reach. The attitude in the child as to war as the solution does not disappear. This attitude continues to inform the child’s approaches to life. Sooner, he begins to fight even his own community members.
Benefits and negatives of being a child soldier
The consequences of child soldiers have two phases. The first phase is the short term phase, in this phase, children engage in war, kill and fight each other in combat. The second phase is long term in nature and usually takes a toll on the children in the post war periods. Usually, the child has been ingrained into violent and other criminal engagements. This influences his or her activities in the society. In cases of disagreements the child easily resorts to violence and crime to solve his own grievances. This leads to an increase of criminal activities in the society with blatant disregard of the rule of law. In the long run, an analysis of the pros and cons of war reveals results balancing in favour of the cons. Some of the benefits derived from child soldier engagement include the confidence developed in the child through continuous interaction in battle which gives them self-confidence and a self-determination approach in life. The child will always believe in his capacity to solve his own problems and have a determinist approach in which he would most likely resort to his own devices in the pursuit of his goals. Secondly, there is an approach in the child that is tough and not easily defeated. The child is ingrained into resilience and consistent working. This is often brought about by the lessons learnt from the long and torturous nature of war. On the other hand, the war introduces in the child an attitude that is warlike. The child believes in war for the solution of his problems. This approach is often dangerous as the child cannot live peacefully and handle his disagreements without engaging in war. In the long run, it breeds crime and its related consequences in society. All these consequences accrue as a result of the social exchange theory which arrives at social stability through exchanges within society.
Amnesty International. (2013, April 2). From Cradle to War. Retrieved April 10, 2013, from Amnesty International: http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/issues/children-s-rights/child-soldiers
Becker, J. (2012, June 2012). U.S. Must Enforce Ban on Child Soldiers. Retrieved April 10, 2013, from Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/06/28/us-must-enforce-ban-child-soldiers
Child Soldiers International. (2012, Febraury 12). Who are Child Soldiers? Retrieved April 10, 2013, from Child Soldiers International : http://www.child-soldiers.org/about_the_issues.php
Human Rights Watch . (2013, February 26). "We Will Teach You a Lesson" . Retrieved April 10, 2013, from Human Rights Watch : http://www.hrw.org/reports/2013/02/26/we-will-teach-you-lesson
International Rescue Committee. (2012, December 21). Child Soldiers. Retrieved April 10, 2013, from International Rescue Committee: http://www.rescue.org/child-soldiers