Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Consequences of Child Soldiering

Event Title: The Consequences of Child Soldiering
Sponsor: Center for Development
Location: Center for Development, 3rd Floor Conference Room
Date: January 31st, 2006
Time: 12:00 pm-1:00 pm
Approximate Number of Attendees: 12
Intern Attending: Evan Davies

Featured Speaker: Mr. Christopher Blattman

Mr. Christopher Blattman spent the last four years in Northern Uganda collecting data about child soldiering. Because the armies are elusive and dangerous groups, there has been little previous information about child soldiers in the country. At the event Blattman shared some of his findings with the group. Currently, there are 72 armed groups using child soldiers in 20 African nations. This large number of soldiers entails a significant loss in human capital as children lose years of education. They also prove a challenge to reintegrate upon leaving the groups. Inadequate education results in lower skilled employment; the outcome is a low income job. Blattan contends that rather than brainwashing undergone by child soldiers, time away from home and loss of education are the most costly outcomes suffered.

The average time a child is abducted by the Lord’s Revolutionary Army (LRA), a rebel group practicing child soldiering in Uganda, is eight months. Some children are able to escape after being kidnapped for one night, while others never are able to leave. 80% of children do eventually escape the LRA, however, 10% of those are killed in the process. On average, children lose nine months of education, but are eventually integrated back into school. A problem that causes setbacks to the reintegration process is the lack of remedial schools in Uganda. Children who are abducted must return to their last enrolled grade, creating large age gaps in class. This discourages many from reenrolling into schools.

An unforeseen effect of child soldiering is the strong community participation demonstrated by reintegrated individuals. Child soldiers are 10% more likely to vote and 25% more likely to become a community leader. As a society, Ugandans warmly welcome former child soldiers back into the community. Unfortunately, soldiers are often destined to low income jobs as a result of their loss of education.

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