Child Soldiers In A Long Way Gone

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Have you ever mentioned the subject of child soldiers in a standard conversation? Most likely not. Child soldiers are not an everyday discussion topic, but recently they have grown more and more popular. While in the past, “children were not particularly effective as front-line fighters since most of the lethal hardware was too heavy and cumbersome for them to manipulate” (, weapons have become lighter, and younger infantries have followed suit. While childhoods usually don’t consist of shooting people, taking villages, and other awful acts of war, they can, and this physiologically impacts a child. However, although the acts that child soldiers carry out may be horrific, they can still be forgiven and the children can be reconciled.…show more content…
An example is when Ishmael Beah, a former child soldier and author of A Long Way Gone, is first recruited into the military. After viewing mutilated and lifeless corpses, a soldier tells Ishmael “You will get used to it, everybody does eventually” (pg. 100). Taking people’s lives, doing drugs, and watching death unfold before you are terrible things, but children like Ishmael aren’t really given any other choice. They are forced to commit these acts until they didn’t feel any sadness or remorse whatsoever. Of course, they could always try to run away, but in Ishmael’s case it would most likely lead to death. “This man and child decided to leave this morning...The rebels shot them in the clearing” (pg. 107). When the lieutenant of Ishmael’s village gives the choice between fighting or running away, it is almost certain that leaving would result in a case similar to the man and child’s. Therefore, Ishmael and the other villagers were forced to choose between a life of fighting or dying, as most child soldiers do. After being forced to do something, it shouldn’t be their fault that they did. Instead it should mean they can be…show more content…
Therefore, child soldiers may be too young to completely understand the violence they are creating. A great example is before Ishmael’s first real battle, when he and the other kids are preparing. “All the other boys... were having fun, because they thought they were gearing up for more drills, but I knew we weren’t going for training…” (pg. 115). Like most children, these kids were not expecting the war they were about to join. They knew they were soldiers, but they didn’t understand the true horrors that came with that title. And when they eventually did realize, they couldn’t leave. They could only continue to kill and destroy. “We had been fighting for over two years, and killing had become a daily activity. I felt no pity for anyone. My childhood had gone by without my knowing, and it seemed as if my heart had frozen” (pg. 127). The soldiers in Ishmael’s village had made them fight so much, that killing has become virtually all they know. They had essentially been brainwashed, for they had not yet become capable of making their own choices. Therefore, they do not hold responsibility for their actions and shouldn’t be viewed as monsters, but rather as children who didn’t know any

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