In a recent News.com article it was headlined that at least 250,000 children around the world are being used in wars and surely this must parallel sexual trafficking with young children.
I recall my visit to Auschwitz in 2005 and the parallel of the photographs and film documentaries showing the youth of the Nazi guards to the youth of the Polish police and military on security duty was manifest.
At that time I wrote -
"The Israeli guide told us that most of the SS Guards at these death camps came out of the Hitler Youth movement, as part of the compulsory training of the 'military machine', and were in most cases in their early 20s – or younger.
"While I listened to these accounts of young soldiers, it dawned upon me that the Polish police and soldiers - who were everywhere about - also looked so young.
"And, like young people everywhere, they felt as though they were indestructible, even though they had not yet had the experience of life to think of others in less fortunate positions (empathy needs development).
"Added to this was their brainwashing, from their time in the Youth Movement, aimed at convincing them that they were a superior race and that the Jews were to be seen as vermin to be totally wiped out.
"Little wonder there was a total disregard for human life .... " (end of quotation)
The philosophy of using child soldiers is nothing new but a huge movement has gathered around the world against using children in combat – Child Soldiers International.
The article explains that since 2000, the participation of child soldiers has been reported in most armed conflicts and in almost every region of the world, according to Child Soldiers International.
The News.com article lists some very graphic videos with a warning of their content. This is the list of countries documented who since 2011 have used children in combat (war).
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of Congo
Well documented and very public are the child soldiers from Africa and ISIS. Missionaries have been telling first hand stories of immediate experiences of child soldiers and the nature of difficulties in post war 'stand down'.
UNICEF estimates there are over 250,000 children involved with armed groups, being used for everything from frontline fighters, suicide bombers or human shields to porters, couriers, spies, messengers and guards.
Human Rights Watch says many are abducted or recruited by force, while others join out of desperation, believing that armed groups offer their best chance for survival. The report claims: "Children are sometimes forced to commit atrocities against their own family or neighbours, children are easily manipulated are too young to resist or understand."
A wide range of international bodies including Amnesty International have documented similar, the list goes.
All this is a similar trajectory to sex trafficking, in that as the News.com article notes:
"Both boys and girls face the risk of sexual abuse, while girls are often forced into marriage. There are reports out of The Council on Foreign Relations that girls, impregnated by their commanders, have even been forced to fight with their babies strapped to their backs."
The world wide campaign against sex trafficking has had a focus on the West with young people in servitude to financial interests and much has been written on this subject by our young writers.
The sex trafficking in these war regions where child soldiers are ensnared have a double whammy, in that they are engaged in satisfying the sexual pleasures of their superiors and personnel. Words are simply not enough to illustrate the horrific manner of 'human exchange' whereas video footage doesn't measure the emotional toll which often lasts a life time.
One thing every one of us can do is discuss it and bring it into the open and ensure that our politicians are aware of your heartache. Such movements across a nation into the ear of every politician bring pressure to bear that more action can be taken through nation to nation communications.
These things are bought to book at an international level although missionaries continue to engage in ministry at this level in many localised areas - the problem is that there are not enough of such missionary personnel and rogue combatants move to other areas when the pressure gets too much.
Moreover the recent film "Fury" about a WWII American tank commander, an early scene has a fresh green crew member seeing the children through the heavy green thickets and trees and couldn't bring himself to alert and fire. One of these children sent the lead tank to massive fire and destruction by a simple hand held tank blaster. It was a lesson of deadly combat and from that time on no further quarter was given.
A real and present trauma - Peace Keeper helpers in such places get targeted - the perpetrators to such meaningless killing - turns out to be an 8 year old boy or a 12 year old girl.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html