Backgrounder: Soldier and Singer Join Forces to End the Use of Child Soldiers

Throughout the world, children are targeted for combat recruitment by government, paramilitary and non-state armed groups, often under the threat of violence or death. These youngsters are seen as low-cost “weapons platforms,” readily available and easily manipulated and indoctrinated. Denied their childhoods, it is estimated that over 300,000 children in more than 30 countries serve as soldiers, human mine detectors, porters, spies, suicide messengers and sex slaves.

The failure to prevent children from being recruited into fighting forces and effectively reintegrated back into their communities leads to their continued vulnerability and abuse, undermines political efforts to implement peace agreements, and has grave consequences for a country’s economic productivity and social coherence.

Seeing the need for a new, innovative and inclusive approach Lt.-Gen (Ret.) Roméo Dallaire and School of Child and Youth Care adjunct professor Dr. Philip Lancaster, along with their associated partners, formed the Child Soldiers Initiative (CSI) with the ultimate goal of eradicating the use of child soldiers.

Lancaster has been involved in the CSI from the beginning. He brings to it his background in political philosophy, a long military career—including a posting as Dallaire’s military assistant during the Rwandan Genocide—and nearly 10 years experience as a member of UNICEF, the World Bank, UN Mine Action and the UN Department of Peace Keeping Operations.

Approximately 100 people met in Winnipeg in 2006 to find new ways to address the problem. An action plan was developed and tested by 50 participants—including University of Victoria School of Child and Youth Care faculty members Drs. Sybille Artz and Marie Hoskins—at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Ghana. Plan objectives included identifying shortfalls in current approaches and developing methods to guide effective implementation strategies.

The next step is to test the plan’s intervention strategies in a field trial in Africa, in co-operation with a UN peacekeeping effort where the use of child soldiers is a major problem. The results of this trial will be made available for worldwide distribution and application. UVic aims to raise substantial funds for this important research.

The work of School of Child and Youth Care faculty members Artz, Hoskins and Daniel Scott involves at-risk children and adolescents, and youth violence prevention. They can apply knowledge gained from their work on the CSI to begin addressing challenges within Canada’s provincial and national child care programs.

For more information and additional links visit

Media contacts

Dr. Marie Hoskins (Child and Youth Care) at 250-721-7982

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Keywords: soldier, singer, join, forces, end, use, child, soldiers

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