It is morally wrong to allow young children to fight in armed conflicts? Discuss

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Title – It is morally wrong to allow young children to fight in armed conflicts? Discuss

Looking at why children fight in armed conflict raises questions about whether children should be involved in armed conflicts.  To answer the above question it is necessary to first look at whether child soldiers are victims or perpetrators of violence or both?  What are the implications when children commit violence? Do children as perpetrators suffer the consequences of violence and should they be protected from violence or should they be allowed to participate in political struggles and have the right to defend themselves and their families?  In addition also looking at whether the causes behind committing violence are important.

What is aggression and violence? Children play fight, play rough and tumble games and war games but when do we draw the line and say that it is getting out of hand and that children are becoming violent?  There are different forms of aggression in children, Instrumental aggression is where a child is wanting to obtain a specific goal, such as retrieve a toy or win a game and there is Hostile aggression where a child is wanting to hurt someone or show dominance, maybe a game that has got out of control.  Cole and Cole psychologists on violence define aggression as ‘an act in which someone intentionally hurts another.’ (Montgomery, 2009, P.148)

Other theorists claim that aggression and violence are learned rather then being part of them already.  So where do we draw the line between aggression and just rough and tumble play?

Nicholas Blurton Jones carried out a study looking at aggression and rough and tumble play in an attempt to draw a distinction.  Based on detailed studies of facial and bodily movements he found that, aggression in children is composed of – Frown, fixate, hit, push, and take-tug-grab.  Rough and tumble play is characterised as – Laugh, play face, run, jump, hit at and wrestle.  This clearly shows the definition between rough and tumble play and aggression. (Montgomery, 2009, P.148)

Are child soldier’s victims or perpetrators of violence or both?  There are many forms of violence that a child can use, there is violence towards their peers or other family members or there is a wider area of violence for instance in armed conflict.  Often bullying occurs in childhood, but why are the children bullies?  It would be said that a child is a perpetrator and not a victim, but what turns the child to be a bully?  Are they being bullied themselves and feel they have to defend themselves or are they just naturally born to be horrible to people.

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‘Yet it is only recently that bullying has been recognised as a serious problem and seen as a form of violence against children’ (Montgomery, 2009, P.154)

Children may turn to violence as a form of defence, coming to be more violent then those of whom they are afraid.  This is how bullying is usually started; if a child is afraid of someone then they have to become a stronger person often leading to them over powering a weaker person.

‘Some children therefore turn to violence as a way of protecting themselves, using violence as both self defence and a means ...

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