Matthew Happold
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Child soldiers in the world today
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Precise statistics are impossible to come by, but more than 300,000 children are believed to be serving as soldiers in conflicts across the world today. Child soldiers have served in conflicts in Africa, Asia and South and Central America. If the statistics are accurate, the recruitment of children is growing. These statistics conceal considerable differences in the experiences of child soldiers, differences that are concealed by the stereotyped view of the child soldier as a pre-adolescent African boy toting an AK-47. Unable to conscript, as conscription is a governmental prerogative, insurgent groups frequently resort to forced recruitment to alleviate manpower shortages. There is a tendency to categorise children's motives for volunteering as permissible or impermissible depending on whether the observer agrees with them or not. International concern has concentrated on the recruitment and use of child soldiers in times of war. Yet many children serve in armed forces in peacetime.

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