Years of persistent advocacy recently paid off as President Bush signed into law a bill that will restrict any U.S. military assistance that would fuel one of the world's most brutal forms of child exploitation — the abuse of children as soldiers. World Vision was a leader in initiating, drafting, and gaining passage of this law. And some 12,000 citizen advocates contributed to this success by contacting their members of Congress to express support for this bill.
On Dec. 10, Congress passed the Child Soldier Prevention Act as part of a larger human trafficking bill. Signed into law by the president on Dec. 23, the new law threatens to cut several types of U.S. military assistance to countries that continue to enlist or force children into their ranks.
Currently, an estimated quarter-million children serve as soldiers in government forces, paramilitaries, and rebel groups around the world. In the past year, eight governments used children in armed conflict. American tax dollars funded military assistance to six of these governments.“Americans’ tax dollars should never contribute to training and arming children and sending them into battle,” said Joseph Mettimano, vice president for advocacy at World Vision, and a key adviser in the development of the Child Soldier Prevention Act. “This law ensures genuine consequences for governments using children to fight their wars. We applaud Congress and the president for creating and passing this law.”
Child soldiers — some as young as 7 — are used as frontline combatants, porters, spies, human mine detectors, and sexual slaves in some 20 conflicts on nearly every continent. The physical, emotional, and psychosocial damage caused by children's exposure to armed conflict is severe and lifelong.
Each year, the U.S. State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights identify governments that recruit or use children in violation of existing international standards.
Countries listed in each year's report will be given five years to release the children within their ranks. During that time, the only military assistance the United States will provide will be specifically to professionalize their troops. If, after that five-year period, there is evidence that child soldiers are still being used or recruited, all key forms of U.S. military assistance will be cut.
According to the Department of State, the current countries that could be affected are Afghanistan, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Uganda.
>> Thank God for the passage of this bill that will protect the lives of countless children impacted by war. Continue to pray for children who are vulnerable to this kind of abuse.
>> Thank your members of Congress for passing this invaluable bill.
>> Give monthly to help provide for the needs of children affected by war and conflict around the world. Your monthly gift will help World Vision provide these children with food, clean water, and health care, as well as trauma counseling, protection, support, and more.
|Read more about the abuse of children as soldiers.|
Three ways you can help
|Thank God for the passage of this bill that will protect the lives of countless children impacted by war. Continue to pray for children who are vulnerable to this kind of abuse.|
Thank your members of Congress for passing this invaluable bill.