They are playing with their friends, doing their daily chores, sitting in a classroom, attending a church service or Sunday school. Children have been ambushed and snatched while engaged in activities such as these and forced to become child soldiers in many countries.
Their traumas include shooting and killing innocent men, women, and children, taking drugs, planting mines, and drinking the blood of victims. They are known to be ferocious, efficient, and intimidating. Some children are kidnapped from their schools or their beds, some are recruited after seeing their parents slaughtered, others may even choose to join the militias as their best hope for survival in war-torn countries from Colombia, and across Africa and the Middle East, to south Asia. Once recruited, many are brainwashed, trained, given drugs and then sent into battle with orders to kill.
The children’s very vulnerability makes them attractive to the men leading militias, according to Jo Becker, who has interviewed former child soldiers in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Uganda and Myanmar for Human Rights Watch.
They endure a silent torture from the voices in their heads.