Child Soldiers by Jason H. Curcio

Dear Reader,

You may be familiar with child soldiers being notorious for having been drafted, or volunteering, at a very young age. Their actions will depend on their childhood, depending on whether or not they had a hard time when they were young. As you may know, child soldiers are often seen as perpetrators. While that may be true for some cases, it is unfair for all of them to be seen as perpetrators even if some are innocent. It is really hard to generalize what child soldiers should be seen as, which is why it is good to have a middle ground. I am aware of your leadership in this country, which is why I want to request that a law is made for child soldiers which states that they should be given amnesty as long as they show remorse, and/or are under the age of 13. These two requirements create a middle ground and a fair trial for these children.

The parameters I’ve given should be enforced during the process of deciding whether or not a child is a perpetrator or innocent. Showing remorse is a good way reason to give a child amnesty because it shows that they know what they did was not good, and could be put through. a rehabilitation process. Some may think that showing remorse isn’t the right way of deciding because the children could easily lie, and get out of being prosecuted. This argument is illogical because lie detectors can be easily used to show the real truth behind a child’s words. If the child is not lying then they should be given amnesty and taken through a rehabilitation process. On the other hand, if they are lying then they should be prosecuted and given consequences. This method will ensure that the decisions made by the trial aren’t falsified. One case of a child not showing regret is when they enjoy killing. Emmanuel Jal is a child soldier, and has grown up knowing that killing is the right thing to do. He once said, “…In five years as a fighting boy, what was in my heart was to kill as many Muslims as possible.” This is obvious that he doesn’t mind killing at all, and shows little to no regret in his actions.

Another point of view that one could make would be that child soldiers are being forced into this war. An article on child soldiers uses a quote that talks about these children being pushed into fighting without their consent. The reporter says, “…and are pushed by their adult commanders into perpetrating atrocities.” A good point was made on this quote which was that these children aren’t looking at the bigger picture when committing these crimes. They aren’t thinking about the victims of their actions. If they are not prosecuted, then they will be standing right by more potential victims. It is important to acknowledge that child soldiers have to be looked at individually, or else the guidelines of prosecution could be too general for the individual case. Looking at each case will extend the amount of time needed to make a decision, and can drag out the process. This is inefficient and time consuming which is not the right choice assuming there are a lot of child soldiers cases.

A child’s age can directly affect their actions, especially if they are young. One of the reasons being that they are very easily manipulated, and controlled when it comes to receiving orders. This makes them the perfect target for commanders because they know that the children will follow their orders. Ultimately these children have been taken away from their childhood which makes it easier to understand why they may be willing to fight. They are angry that their parents were left them or were killed, which makes it so that they can use that anger to kill other people.

To sum it up, I think child soldiers should be given amnesty, only under certain circumstances. It doesn’t make sense to prosecute a child that is 9 years old and was grown up knowing that killing should be rewarded. It simply isn’t the child’s fault if they don’t know the consequences of their actions. In every way, child soldiers are wrong to recruit, which is why it is so important that they are given a fair chance of showing they can function as a member of society. Being a citizen and knowing that there are potentially dangerous child soldiers all around you, is a scary thought.


Jason H. Curcio

Child Soldiers Should Not Receive Amnesty by Seb

Dear General Public:

Child soldiers are being used more and more in recent wars. In many war-stricken, third-world countries, children volunteer to fight in deadly wars, often choosing to kill their own family to be accepted. It is my position that child soldiers captured by the U.S. should not be given amnesty, official pardon for people who have been convicted of political offense for the crimes they commit.
First of all, child soldiers are the same thing as child criminals. Child criminals are never given amnesty for the crimes they commit, so child soldiers shouldn’t be given amnesty either. To add on to that, child soldiers often commit crimes far worse than those committed by child criminals. Some may think that child soldiers should receive total amnesty because of their young age, but it turns out many soldiers know what they are doing when they go to the military looking to be signed. Child soldiers take lives, including the lives of people in their own family, and should be punished for it.
Giving child soldiers pardon would also be denying victims and their families justice. As stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights(UDHR) in Article 3 “[e]veryone has the right to… security of person.” This means anyone that violates someone’s security of person is considered a criminal under law, and should be prosecuted. Later in the UDHR, in Article 6, it states “Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere before the law,” meaning that no matter who they were hurt or killed by, a victim still has the right to try anyone who committed a crime against them no matter who they are.
Finally, child soldiers should not be given amnesty before the law because if they are pardoned, will then begin to participate in worse crimes. When child soldiers begin to be not punished by the law for the crimes they commit, the military commanders will begin using them for the worst and most dangerous missions because the children won’t get punished. As stated by Stephen Leahy in the article “Prosecuting Child Soldiers For Their Own Safety,” not “prosecuting child perpetrators could indirectly expose child soldiers to greater risks, since military commanders might delegate the “dirtiest” orders to children because of their immunity from prosecution”. This will force children into positions that are worse than the ones many are currently kill, and will likely result in more deaths of both enemy troops and children, something that is negative.
All of this information proves that child soldiers should not be given amnesty for their own safety. If they aren’t they will be forced into positions that are worse than the ones they are already being put into. Giving captured child soldiers amnesty would also mean putting them out into the U.S., which could lead to terror attacks or the radicalization of other residents. It will also deny victims of the child soldiers justice, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Child soldiers must not be given amnesty in order to protect them, and protect the american people. Thank you for reading my essay on this highly controversial topic.


Sebastian Solòrzano

Sebastian Solòrzano

Should Child Soldiers Receive Amnesty? by SL. GG

Dear Reader:

The issue of child soldiers is one surrounded by controversy. The question of whether the government should provide child soldiers with amnesty is widely disputed. Many believe that only children within a certain age range, or only from a few countries, etc, should receive amnesty. However, although these are valid points and worthy of discussion, it is far more reasonable to state that child soldiers should receive amnesty provided that they are fully rehabilitated. Child soldiers deserve rehabilitation because their actions are not their fault, they are underage, and they are brainwashed in order to be forced to commit acts of violence.
The first step in recognizing the need for amnesty is that the acts of violence committed by child soldiers are not the fault of the child soldiers. To begin with, many child soldiers are forced into wars or violence against their wills. Jeffrey Gettleman’s article Armed & Underage notes how in some cases “hunger and poverty drive[s] parents to sell their children into service.” The same article also presents the fact that, in the case of Myanmar, “thousands of boys, some as young as ten, are purchased, kidnapped, or tortured into joining [Myanmar’s] army.” Other children go to army bases expecting a safe haven from the war and violence that is ravaging their villages and towns. Instead of finding safety, they are drafted and unable to leave for fear of being tortured or killed by their commanders. According to former child soldier and now activist Ishmael Beah, the life of a child soldier is that “you go out, you shoot people, … you do whatever the commander wants you to do — if not, they will kill you. And then you’re fed drugs… there’s always ways of killing people in front of you to desensitize you — you’re given more drugs after that. You watch…films as just a way to keep you in this madness.” In the midst of this numbed horror, the child soldiers are sent out to fight, placing them in a kill or be killed situation. One hesitation, one life spared, could mean death for a child soldier, brought upon them either by the person they were supposed to kill, or by their commander.
There are many who would say that the age of a child soldier is irrelevant when it comes to granting them amnesty; everyone chooses their own actions, and everyone should be held accountable for their choices. In the case of child soldiers, however, although there are some who manage to escape from the violence, the majority of child soldiers are unable to do this for a multitude of reasons. To begin with, child soldiers are unable to fight back against the people commanding them. The commanders are in a position of power, whereas the children are soldiers — easily punished and easily replaceable. If they disobey, fight back, or try and fail to escape, there is every chance that they will be killed. We cannot possibly expect every child soldier to even attempt to escape with the odds backed up so high against them. Alongside this, child soldiers are not necessarily mature or developed enough to formulate or implement complex and successful escape plans. Child soldiers, here referring to children under the age of 20, are not old enough to do so. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, “[t]he rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until he or she is 25 years old or so.” Children are simply not capable of making life altering decisions, primarily decisions that result in life or death. Their brains are not developed enough to do so. Child soldiers are not old enough to be reasonably held accountable for their actions, particularly when under the threat of death for disobedience.
Even if a child soldier was mentally capable of formulating a suitable escape plan, chances are that prolonged exposure to violence and drugs, combined with the loss of their family would keep the child from implementing their potential plan. It is also the case that after having lost their safety, security, and family, children “want to belong to something, especially if they live in a society that has collapsed completely. Their communities are broken down, they want to belong to anything slightly organized and these groups become that.” This testimony was given by former child soldier Ishmael Beah, now an author and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Ishmael Beah stated in an interview with George Stroumboulopoulos that “this [violent/military] group, in a weird way, sort of becomes your surrogate family, you begin to look up to the commander as a father figure because you’ve lost everything dear to you. ” Children end up transferring feelings of attachment and safety that would otherwise go to their parents to the figures in their lives with authority and who provide them with food and shelter; the very same commanders that have the power to kill the child soldiers for disobedience or cowardice. This attachment that many child soldiers feel towards their commanders can provide another incentive to obey.
Brainwashing can not only create a feeling of attachment towards those in power, it can also cause child soldiers to enjoy the violence they are witnessing/inflicting. In Somalia, where “[m]ost children have never been in a classroom or played in a park,” 12 year old Awil Osman is a member of Somalia’s military. When asked by what he enjoys, he responded “’What do I enjoy?’” Awil asks. ‘I enjoy the gun.’” This enjoyment of violence can often be mistaken for menacing, unstable, or even terroristic. Although it is certainly easy to see why quotes like these would be interpreted thus, it is imperative to remember that even the most toxic mindset can be unlearned to some extent. Although children like Awil may never be completely free of these thoughts and feelings, through sufficient therapy and rehabilitation they may be able to recognize that pro-violence mindsets are dangerous and a direct result of the trauma they experienced. Brainwashing must be reversed so that child soldiers are no longer a danger to their communities. The effects can be reversible. Former child soldiers like Sierra Leonean Ishmael Beah are living proof of that.
It is evident that rehabilitation is key to allowing child soldiers to reenter society as functioning members of the community. Once brainwashing and programing has been lessened and/or undone, child soldiers are able to see and process the negative effects of their actions. They are able to realize that their actions were harmful and not to be repeated. Eventually, child soldiers can be integrated into society without fear that they will be a danger to themselves or the community. Providing child soldiers with rehabilitation and amnesty provides an opportunity to recover and have a new life. A brilliant example of how child soldiers can be constructive to society is author Ishmael Beah, to whom I have made references above. Beah is a former child soldier who was rescued by UNICEF and rehabilitated. He has used his experiences as a child soldier in Sierra Leone to spread awareness about child soldiers, violence, and the necessity of rehabilitation. Beah has used and continues to use his own trauma and recovery as a way to spread awareness about a topic that many consider uncomfortable. All things considered, child soldiers have a right to amnesty on the grounds that they will be provided adequate rehabilitation and therapy. As I have made clear, child soldiers deserve rehab because they are victims of war, have undergone brainwashing and trauma, and are simply not old enough to be prosecuted or denied amnesty for their actions.

Excerpt: A Thematic Review of Ship Breaker by Maddie Collart

The dystopian novel ¨Shipbreaker¨ by Paolo Bacigalupi takes place in the futuristic society of the United States. Nailer is a teenager who scavenges ships on Bright Sands Beach. He has always known a rough life. He has the bare minimum of supplies and safety in his life, and most importantly, he has an abusive father. Throughout this book, the author puts emphasis on the theme that every person’s perception of ‘family’ can vary, and can affect how people treat each other. This concept is shown through the different perceptions of the diverse characters in the story and how they change. These characters have lived in different conditions than each other and have grown up with different threats and people around them. All of these issues factor into their perception of ‘family’ and how this important theme is woven throughout the story.

Excerpt: Thematic Essay — Ship Breaker by SL. GG

Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi, is set in a dystopian version of the Americas. The main character, a young boy named Nailer, and his friend Pima are on a scavenge crew. They scour shipwrecks to find anything worth selling. After a hurricane, Nailer and Pima find a ship that has been washed ashore. As no one else has spotted it, they decide to scavenge it and take the loot for themselves. They find many expensive things, a dead crew, and a girl. The girl, Nita, turns out to be alive, and Nailer and Pima rescue her from her ship. Nita proves to be unbelievably wealthy. This difference in social class provides an insight to one of the many themes of this story. Ship Breaker shows that money, or lack thereof, changes the way that people think, perceive the world, and act on these perceptions. This is important to acknowledge because, when interacting with others, we must remember that their backgrounds and the way they view money and class changes the way they behave towards us and others.

Excerpt: The Impossible Maze by Keela Zambre

James Dashner’s The Maze Runner tells the story of a group of boys– who call themselves the gladers– with no memories of their past who are stuck in a deadly maze filled with moving walls and dangerous Grievers. The only things that they remember are their names and that they were sent into the maze by the Creators, who supply them with the things they need to live and one more boy each month. Over time, the Gladers eventually build a civilization run by the Keepers, a group of boys in charge of each job, and their leader Alby. One day, the Creators send them a girl instead of a boy. She carries a note that says, “things are going to change,” and they do. Soon after her arrival, many strange things begin to happen; grievers begin attacking and they stop getting people. One lesson that this story can teach the reader is that people have different perspectives and they can often lead to conflict and people getting hurt.

One scene that supports this theme is when the Keepers are deciding the fate of the main character, Thomas. Thomas had broken the number one rule– don’t go into the maze at night– and saved the lives of two people. One Keeper, Gally, thinks that Thomas should be punished for breaking the rules. He says, “I officially recommend that we lock his butt in the Slammer [jail].”

On the other hand, Minho thinks that Thomas should be Keeper of the Runners– a very honorable job. Eventually, they get into a fight and have to be pulled apart. This scene shows that when people have different opinions, they may argue or fight about it.
The opposing beliefs between Thomas, the Gladers, and the Creators has caused a lot of conflict and hurt. Fights between the characters broke out because they had different points of view. Almost all of the characters were hurt from these fights. The beliefs of the characters in the story causes both conflict and hurt for everyone.

Excerpt: Ship Breaker vs. Legend by Solo

In both Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi and Legend by Marie Lu, one major theme is the world that our parents are leaving us is not one anyone should have to live in.

Both texts take place in a world where global warming and destruction of land have significantly affected the day to day routine. In Legend large chunks of America are missing, submerged under floods. The floods are a result of the ice caps melting, something that is most likely going to happen in the near future for the real world. In Ship Breaker hurricanes bombard every shore of the world, caused by an increase in ocean temperature. New Orleans specifically has been destroyed and rebuilt more than 3 times after being destroyed by hurricanes. The gulf islands would usually protect New Orleans, but they were destroyed by companies drilling for oil. Both these examples show what could happen to our world if we keep treating it the way we are right now. Another thing that both the dystopian novels share is the significant poor population. The

impoverished people that we meet in Legend live in a place called the Lake district. We also hear of large impoverished populations in many other districts, but there are only several wealthy districts. The large majority of people in the world are impoverished in today’s world, but Marie Lu makes it seem like the ratio in Legend is far more one sided. To add on to that, the government in Legend manufactures plagues, and tests them on the poor people, rapidly killing thousands. In Ship Breaker we meet there is one main population of poor people we hear about. The majority of people there work scavenging ships for any precious metal and barely scrape by, usually going without meals several days. Companies buy the metal and transport it different places for money, which is very profitable, while the people in the ship breaking yards get fraction of fraction of what the companies earn. At one point, Nailer finds a wealthy girl in a crashed ship who is still alive. One of her earrings alone would cost years of work in the ship breaking yards. This shows how willingly the wealthy people throw around their money, while the poor are barely surviving.

But something both texts do differently is the relationship between the rich and the poor. In Legend the rich and the poor share borders living in close proximity. The wealthy people are educated about the poor and know they exist, and are extremely impoverished and often barely surviving every day. But they still do nothing. The rich people often completely ignore the poor, not helping them, and often hurting them, not caring about their lifestyle. In Ship Breaker the relationship is the opposite. The wealthy are completely uneducated about the blood work that goes on in the ship breaking yards. The most wealthy person in Bright Sands Beach, the place where Nailer lives, is someone who was part of the yards until they found and extremely valuable pocket of oil, and snuck it out for himself and sold it. Besides that, no one even remotely wealthy knows about what goes on, or lives nearby. Nita, the wealthy girl Nailer finds, shows complete ignorance to what goes on. She is the daughter to the man who owns one of the companies that buys the scrap for recycling, and think that the company is completely clean, even though they are theoretically buying blood. Both living in range of a large impoverished population and not doing anything, and living in complete ignorance are detrimental and negatively impact society.

In their dystopian texts, both Paolo Bacigalupi and Marie Lu do a phenomenal job highlighting what our world can become. It’s important to remember that the health of the earth is fast approaching a steep decline, and doing whatever you can do stop that is beneficial and needed.

Excerpt: Using Power Unjustly by U.J.

Thematically, it can be interpreted from Animal Farm that when power is misused in a society, the society will become corrupt. Despite Animal Farm originating with good intentions, Napoleon uses his excessive control of Animal Farm to distort it into a corrupt society. If Napoleon had followed the laws and ideas on which Animal Farm is first founded, the dystopian setting of Animal Farm would have never been created. This theme can be seen in the world. The Soviet Union was created with the intention of everyone being equal. However, this resulted in most people became poor laborers and the people that employed the laborers being wealthy and influential. Eventually, the working class lost all connection to politics and the dictators and other powerful figures had total control of what became of the working class. Under Joseph Stalin, people in the Soviet Union were killed for not supporting Stalin and terrorized into obedience. Like in Animal Farm, the condition that people in the Soviet Union lived in worsened when Stalin used his authority to such an excessive extent.

Excerpt: A Force to be Trusted by Sophia Rosenberg

In The Maze Runner by James Dashner, The Flare, a deadly virus, burns up the world, killing thousands, rotting the brains of its victims. Turning some of the world’s brightest into bloodthirsty monsters. Luckily, WICKED has been formed out of the world’s remaining leaders and is sending the world’s only hope, the next generation of teenagers, most of which are immune to the disease killing the world, into The Maze. And WICKED’s plan? The Maze trials, an expansive, ever-changing Maze crawling with Grievers. Hundreds of boys, The Gladers, have already been sent into the maze and have been living there for over two years. They have built an entirely new world for themselves, with the Creators wiping all of their past memory, providing all the supplies needed and sending a new boy each month, except for two, the final two: Thomas, and the only girl, Teresa. First instinct is always a strong first judgment, but it can’t always be trusted, a truth that the Gladers will soon find out.

The door to the Maze closes each night. When Thomas sees Alby and Minho in the Maze, with no hope of getting back to the Glade before the doors close, he knows he needs to help somehow. In the moment, Thomas decides to trust his first instinct, to jump into the Maze to help his unlucky friends. The Gladers have never had a problem with anyone breaking the number one rule: do not go into the Maze unless you are given permission. This rule was created for a reason. No one has ever survived a night out in the Maze with the Grievers, and Thomas’s decision may not have been the best one. But it’s too late now, the boys are trapped in the Maze for the night whether they like it or not. Dashner also uses literary devices such as metaphors to help convey the theme. One example of this is shortly after Thomas jumps into the Maze. “A thick silence followed the thunderous rumble of The Door closing, and a veil darkness seemed to cover the sky, as if even the sun had been frightened away by what lurked in the Maze.” The imagery that Dashner uses in this scene in the text helps to emphasize the gravity of the situation that Thomas puts himself in.

After escaping from the Maze, the Gladers find themselves in an enormous room filled with machinery and about 20 white pods. The room is huge, big enough to fit 20 Homesteads. Soon after their arrival, a woman with brown hair comes into the room, with Galley following behind. As the women started to talk to the Gladers, Gally interrupts. “They . . . can control me . . . I don’t – His eyes bulged, a hand went to his throat as if he were choking. I . . . have . . . to . . .” . Suddenly Gally is pulling something from behind him, a dagger, heading straight for Thomas. All of a sudden Chuck is moving, an instinct that flashes before Chuck’s eyes that he has to follow. Jumping in front of the dagger saves Thomas’s life, but ends Chuck’s. The moment that Chuck sees the dagger start to pummel towards Thomas, he knows that he needs to save him. Thomas is the start of the end, he lead to the escape from the Maze, Thomas seems to be a necessary part of the survival of the Gladers. That very second is when Chuck knows that for certain this first instinct was the right one, one that needed to be trusted.

Excerpt: From Dialogue to Feeling by Gumbo

The emotions that we feel can impact our actions and the way we think- for better or for worse. In “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury, the author shows the emotions of the characters throughout the story by using dialogue to show the emotions of the readers. This dialogue can help to explain the characters’ actions and give the reader a better understanding of the story. “The Veldt” takes place in the Hadley’s homestead, which George Hadley, the father, paid a hefty amount for. The home includes everything a normal house includes, and much more. The Hadleys do what they feel like doing, and don’t do what they don’t feel like doing, such as brushing their teeth, washing themselves, making food and putting clothes on. Things like these are accomplished by the machines that inhabit practically every room in the house. George and Lydia Hadley, the parents of the family, are wondering if all of the automation is really what’s best for their children, or if the children even consider them to be their parents in the first place. Throughout “The Veldt,” Bradbury uses dialogue to show the characters’ emotions.

At the beginning of the story, Bradbury uses dialogue to show the parents’ unease about the technology. After fleeing from the nursery, Lydia is in a state of shock, which is shown when George says “Lydia! Oh my dear poor sweet Lydia” to comfort her. George then has the idea that “Why don’t we shut the whole house off for a few days and take a vacation?” By adding this dialogue, Bradbury communicated to the readers that George Hadley feels like there’s nothing to do with his life, giving the reader hints as to what George ends up doing. Bradbury also uses dialogue to show that the parents feel replaced when Lydia says, “You smoke a little more every morning and drink a little more every afternoon and need a little more sedative every night. You’re beginning to feel unnecessary too.” This dialogue shows that Lydia is in agreement with George that the family needs a “vacation” and that the machines are replacing them. By demonstrating the emotions of the characters through dialogue, Bradbury is able to give the reader a deeper understanding on the reason as to why the parents are uneasy about the technology.

When the children get home, Bradbury uses dialogue to show the intensity of the exchange between George and Lydia Hadley and their children. When George first suggests to Peter that he is considering the idea of shutting off the technology, Peter says, “That sounds dreadful! Would I have to tie my own shoes instead of letting the shoe tier do it? And brush my own teeth and comb my hair and give myself a bath?” By including this dialogue, Bradbury conveys to the reader that Peter is not in agreement with his parents’ stance on the machines, but also that he is scared of having to do the work that the machines have done for him. When George tells Peter to go to bed, Peter ends off the exchange with, “I don’t think you’d better consider it any more, Father.” This line shows that Peter is willing to threaten his father to make his case. By saying this, Peter also shows that he is not likely to change his stance on whether or not to agree with his father. Although It could be argued that Peter was just upset and ended up threatening his father as a result, but his anger persists to the point where Peter and wendy end up killing their parents, showing that Peter was serious about his threat, although his anger certainly didn’t help.

When the psychologist, David McClean arrives, Bradbury is able to shine some light on McClean’s opinion on the matter through dialogue. After George and Lydia show David the nursery, David says, “You’ve let this room and this house replace you and your wife in your children’s affections. This room is their mother and father, far more important in their lives than their real parents.” This dialogue not only confirms the parent’s suspicions, but it also shows that the psychologist agrees with the parents about shutting the machines off. David also shows that he’s uncomfortable just by being in the nursery by saying, “Let’s get out of here. I never have cared for these damned rooms. Make me nervous.” This dialogue helps to tell the reader not only that the nursery can project images that seem real, but also that George and Lydia aren’t the only ones who are scared of the nursery.

Throughout “The Veldt,” Bradbury uses dialogue to show the emotions of the characters and leave the reader with a better understanding of how the characters are feeling. By using dialogue, Bradbury was able to escalate the tensions between the characters. In the end, Peter and Wendy’s emotions got the best of them, which ended in their parent’s demise. At first, the life of the Hadley family seems to be nearly perfect. But after looking further into it, their lives start to seem dull, and the characters’ actions show that their lives are more complicated than they first seem.