“In the last decade, two million children have been killed in situations of armed conflict, while six million children have been permanently disabled or injured. Over 250,000 children continue to be exploited as child soldiers and tens of thousands of girls are being subjected to rape and other forms of sexual violence.”
– Olara A. Otunnu in a report to the General Assembly of the United Nations
Many governments around the world are actively using children as frontline soldiers, transporters and spies. Often times these governments are considered allies of the U.S. and are provided military financing, training, and weapons through taxpayer dollars.
In April of 2007, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) introduced the Child Soldier Prevention Act. The bill would prohibit governments who recruit or use child soldiers in “government supported armed groups” – including paramilitaries, militias, or civil defense forces – from receiving funds “appropriated or otherwise made available for specified military and related areas.”
Oxfam America has set up an online petition where you can appeal to your state’s Senators, encouraging them to co-sponsor the bill. The “Child Soldier Prevention Act” currently has 33 co-sponsors. However, of the three U.S. Senators currently seeking the presidency, only Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has signed on as a co-sponsor.
This bill may see action in the Senate very soon. So it’s important that we make our voices heard on this crucial issue now!