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Introduction to Childhood
Childhood is a concept which gets affected by a large variety of factors, because of which it needs utmost attention to be paid by adults to ensure that they do not get hurt in any way and that they are able to lead a healthy and positive childhood as well as adolescence (Schilling, Aseltine and Gore, 2007). War and armed conflicts is one of the major reasons that affects lives of children. There have been many wars over the years, which essentially has significantly influenced childhood. It can be supported through cases and situations of wars such as the World War I & II, etc. The present report sheds light and discusses how such wars and armed conflicts have transformed lives of children thereby affecting the overall lifestyle.
Representing And Experiencing Childhood And Adolescence
Childhood and age of adolescence is one of those times which are very crucial in the lives of an individual, primarily because of reason that it is that time where they learn things from their surroundings. Many authors and child experts have said that it is imperative to provide conducive life to children so that they may learn new things and can later lead a healthy as well as positive life (Zielinski, 2009). In this sense, it may not be wrong to say that children learn from their surroundings Crooks and et. al, (2007) states that if any mistake happens during this time period or the children are not provided a healthy environment, then their lives can be influenced adversely, which would gradually destroy their lives. It can be supported through fact that violence, as recalled by Finkelhor, Ormrod and Turner (2007), has a substantial negative effect on the children and also their lives.
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Children are the young victims of war, rather than being a hero/heroine, as described by many terrorist organizations in the world. In this sense, it may not be wrong to say that using children as a vehicle for war and other armed conflicts is morally, ethically and socially wrong, as it has demoralizing and deplorable effects on the young individuals (Finkelhor, Ormrod and Turner, 2007). They can be intimidated easily, i.e. a fear can be instilled in their minds, that essentially would enable them to fight a war. Another one is that children and such young soldiers do not demand for salaries and/or wages. The concerned army can spend this money on arms and ammunitions, training, etc.
In recent some years, acts of violence, such as wars and armed conflicts have increased by great margins, which in turn has negatively affected lives of children (Barbara, 2006). It can be supported through fact that they have to live in a negatively developed environment, that does not allow them to achieve a effective personal and professional growth. It is because of this reason, they are not able to learn the things that they should, in order to lead a better life and benefit the society or community they are a part of. In this context Aspelmeier, Elliott and Smith,(2007), opines that by providing a much effective childhood and adolescence, not only can lives of children be improved, but the society in general can also be enhanced.
Along with this, wars have had their effects in the forms of physical, mental and emotional abuse, which collectively has destroyed their future. Armed conflicts have changed the whole landscape of how communities around the planet provide a helpful and conducive environment to children and adolescents (Dubow, Boxer and Huesmann, 2008). But Harding, (2013), recalls that war in relation to children must not be conceived only in terms of armed conflicts; or when two or more nations fight against one another through arms and ammunitions in a quest for more power (political) and geographical coverage. It can be in the form of child abuse, such as child bearing, foeticide, etc. as well.
This way, quality of life was severely affected which essentially created a lot of troubles for them and also their future. Further, there was another kind of abuse that happened in these countries with children and young people. They were beaten up regularly by their parents, especially fathers. This instilled a fear in minds of children, severely affecting their quality of life. This was, observed by Barnes and et. al, (2009), a strenuous war against children and adolescents. Aspelmeier, Elliott and Smith, (2007) states that armed conflicts have very severe impact over lives of the children and their growth and development, as it can be supported through fact that in last some wars, it is these young people who have suffered the most. Many studies have found wars and armed conflicts to be a major destroyer of childhood (Finkelhor, Ormrod and Turner, 2007). Studies have supported it through examples of World War I & II, where it was observed that children were being plunged into the war directly, both directly and indirectly. In many a cases they volunteered to fight in the war for country that they belong to; while in some situations they were forcefully involved into the fight, which they did not volunteer for.
In recent years, a lot many examples of children being used solider in wars have emerged. The latest of them being the example of the terrorist outfit Isis. This organization, recruits and trains thousands of children with a view to turn them into 'warrior' and provides them information on using different weapons (Coll and Marks, 2012). There are a variety of ways in which the organization uses children in wars. It uses them for guarding different places in its territory; or to arrest civilians; as blood donors; child combatants, etc. In a latest video, Isis shows a child beheading a prisoner. Main reason behind it is that the terrorist group aims at becoming world's most feared terrorist organizations and for that it has used a wide variety of techniques. But, according to many authors, using a child to kill prisoner is the most shocking as well as effective one. Isis's approach of complete indoctrination is another reason behind using children as combatants (Zielinski, 2009). It provides them education in using different weapons as well as trains them in hand-to-hand fights. Brain washing can be touted as one of the reasons for involving them in wars. Furthermore, another way that Isis uses them in wars is to carry weapons, or to be used as human shield, snipers, etc.
Many studies state that, children and young people of the modern age have only seen violence and wars as a daily part of their lives, because of which it has become very difficult for them to lead a life which would bring positive results and help them to grow. In this context Crooks and et. al, (2007), opines that wars have been fought since a very long time and now have become a part of lives of people. But it is the children who have suffered the most (Immel and Goodenough, 2008). It can be supported through fact that one or the other parent joins the war for their country, mostly it is the father. If they die in the war, then the family, their children have to suffer, as they are the ones who get bereaved and do not get proper care or attention. Since, they do not get proper care and attention, they do not get a very good upbringing. This is because of reason that the other parent is under extreme pressure of handling the family, starts to reduce paying attention to children, their needs and wants as well as the life they may be leading (Schauer and Elbert, 2010). In many cases, it has been observed that such bereaved children take the wrong path to life, as they start doing drugs and other such illegal activities. It is because of this reason, many a times, children do not get the care that they need and deserve. This is also an indication that they get bad values and follow the wrong traditions. It would be very hard for them to live a life that may fulfil all their needs and desires and also provide them with maximum care to lead a comfortable life.
Furthermore, wars, as discussed earlier on many instances are joined by young people and adolescents either voluntarily or involuntarily. It can be supported through fact that during World War I & II, children, teenagers were getting involved in the war, as aggressors for their country; while there were some young people who were the victims of armed conflict (Barnes and et. al, 2009). It can be supported through fact that more than 2 million children, around the world were evacuated from their homes and moved to much safer places. During the same time, in addition to their basic education, children were also taught on using gas masks; along with this they also had to suffer rationing, many a times had to live with complete strangers. This left them deeply affected and influenced. Herein Espejo and et. al, (2007), said that impact of evacuation on children happened on the basis of social class and strata they belonged to at that time. The ones who were rich, did not had to suffer too much, as they just had to be moved to their manor houses and continue with their same education. But on the other hand, it was the children who did not belong to a high social class, had to suffer the most. This was mainly because of reason that many of them were separated from their siblings and parents (Harding, 2013). It was due to this fact, they had to suffer considerably and their future life was also destroyed significantly.
In this sense, it may not be wrong to say that due to the evacuation process, lives and future of many children was destroyed significantly, as they were left stranded, without any kind of knowledge and know-how of the world and also without their parents and/or relatives. This, in a great essence had left the young aged people with a large number of problems to face all alone. One of the major problems faced was in terms of different cultures. Herein, it was observed that during the evacuation process, a lot of children from various parts of the country were gathered in a single region or area (Barnes and et. al, 2009). This created some troubles for them, as they had to adjust to different cultures and traditions, which in itself was not an easy task. Considering the fact that they were just children, this turned out be an even more difficult process. Therefore, it may not be wrong to say that war has had significant and substantial impact over the children, which eventually proved to be very damaging for the society as well as the community that they were a part of.
There are a large variety of ways in which impact of war on children and other young people can be described and discussed. One such aspect in this sense is that there were numerous children who got themselves involved in the war, although, from a moral and ethical point of view they should not have (Schilling, Aseltine and Gore, 2008). This essentially means that there are numerous children, over the years who have fought wars when they were minors. In this sense, it may not be wrong to say that they were the ones who fought wars for their country and some of them died in it.
At present also, trend of using concept of child soldiers is very popular, as there are estimated 250,000 child soldiers around the world (Crooks and et. al, 2007). These young people, since an extensively long period of time have been used as a vehicle by armies to fight wars, thus proving to be very dangerous for the society as well as the community that they are a part of. Many studies and research report have shown that more than 40% of child soldiers are girls (Espejo and et. al, 2007). They are involved in wars as sex slaves or wives of the male combatants. Due to this very reason the lives of these children around the world are getting destroyed. Therefore, it may not be wrong to say that the war has created large amount of troubles for children, as they are not getting the care and attention that they should. There are a wide variety of ways in which children are involved in wars. Sometimes they are used as combatants, while some are involved in the war as cooks, porters, spies, etc. All the facts and figures, point that effects of war on children is substantially negative, which essentially has changed and also destroyed their lives. On many occasions they are treated very badly and are made to undergo severe mental abuse. It has been observed several times that they are forced to kill someone or maim their parents or other such family member, so that all their emotional connect and ties with them can be broken. This has very negative results on their lives (Aspelmeier, Elliott and Smith, 2007).
Many authors, academicians and historians state that children were not only just the victims of world war I, but many a times there were also seen as war heroes. People, at that time used to treat these children as heroes of war, largely because they used to think that the children have sacrificed, whether intentionally or not. There were many children who had been plunged into the war, even though they did not wanted to be a part of it, because of which their childhood was affected in a very significant and different manner (Coll and Marks, 2012). On the other hand, there were some children who had joined the war willingly and thus became the war hero. The main reason behind it as recalled by many authors was that the young volunteers were eager to give up their lives and die for their country, which is in complete contrast to nature of that of the adult soldiers. In a study, it was observed that of UK's total navy, nearly 16% were more likely to give their lives than that of the adult servicemen. The fact that such young people gave up their lives for the country, has made them into heroes. This is because of the reason that even though they had so much of life ahead of them, but they still died in a war, which actually they should never have been a part of. In this sense, it may not be wrong to say that this is one of the main reasons that children right from their childhood, start dreaming of joining the army. Young people who died in the world war I were decorated with medals and military awards, along with a very emotional funeral (Perrin, Bloom and Gortmaker, 2007). Because of this situation, many children had dreamt of joining the army and dying for their country. This allowed them to have a very unique and high position in the society, one that every child of that time wanted to reach to.
But from all the above observations and discussions, it can be said that children who were involved in the war, willingly or unwillingly, can never be treated as heroes. This is mainly because of reason that by indulging in the war, irrespective if they were victims of a participant they have always suffered because of it (Perrin, Bloom and Gortmaker, 2007). This can be supported through fact that children who participated in the war as a combatant were not developed mentally, as they were under-age. This essentially means that they were not in a capacity to take decisions, as a major proportion of the war combatants was made up of children under the age of 18. Many of these soldiers, actually had never even left their homes before the war, but joined it just for the craze and enthusiasm of it. After the war had finished and the child soldiers who were able to survive it, could not lead a normal life, as they were not able to forget the trauma they experienced during the war (Schilling, Aseltine and Gore, 2007). Many children were left abandoned, as their families did not accept them back, as they did not wanted their son(s) to join the war.
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Over the years, there have been many theories and models that have explained the concept of citizenship. One of them was proposed by T. H. Marshall in 1949, and today is one of the most popular as well as effective theories of citizenship. According to him, there are three major elements of citizenship – civil, political and social (Barnes and et. al, 2009). All of them have an important role to play, as they help in determining whether or not an individual should be given citizenship of a country or of an area. The civil element of this theory discusses that freedom of speech; faith; liberty, etc. must be the foundation of any society. On the other hand, political element of the model states that right to participate and executive power are very integral; while the social component sheds light that there must be some certain minimum standards of living that every person or individual in the society must be provided with (Dubow, Boxer and Huesmann, 2008). If any of these three elements is missing, then it can be said that the particular community is not suited to giving any citizenship to people. These are the central pillar of any society. Thus in this sense, it may not be wrong to say that this theory of citizenship is applicable in the modern day community, where children are being used in wars and other such armed conflicts. It can be supported through example that the territory and area(s), held by Islamic State or Isis, actually cannot be termed as an area where its members can be provided with citizenship. This is largely because of reason that in this region, the three elements of citizenship are not maintained in a proper manner (Espejo and et. al, 2007).
Childhood and adolescence are such facets where parents are required to be very attentive and cautious. During the report, it was observed that children are used in a variety of ways in a war, such as sex slaves, porters, cooks, etc. There are some sections of the society who believe that children who have fought wars are heroes in their own right. But on the other hand, there are some sections of the society who are of the opinion that children are not heroes, rather they are the victims of it. Through this analysis it can be said that these young people have suffered and lost more than what they have earned while fighting a war.
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- Barnes, J. E. and et. al., 2009. Sexual and physical revictimization among victims of severe childhood sexual abuse. Child abuse & neglect.
- Schilling, E. A., Aseltine, R. H. and Gore, S., 2007. Adverse childhood experiences and mental health in young adults: a longitudinal survey. BMC Public Health.
- Dubow, E. F., Boxer, P. and Huesmann, L. R., 2008. Childhood and adolescent predictors of early and middle adulthood alcohol use and problem drinking: the Columbia County Longitudinal Study. Addiction.
- Schilling, E. A., Aseltine, R. H. and Gore, S., 2008. The impact of cumulative childhood adversity on young adult mental health: measures, models, and interpretations. Social Science & Medicine.
- Crooks, C. V. and et. al., 2007. Understanding the link between childhood maltreatment and violent delinquency: What do schools have to add?. Child Maltreatment.