Why recruit young people?

It is worth considering what the adults involved in organised armed groupings are trying to achieve by recruiting young people into their ranks. Going back to the different perspectives of young people, it is often the ‘troublemaker’ perspective of young people that dominates discussion of the rationale for youth recruitment. Militias can sometimes exploit the way in which a community might perceive a particular young person or group of young people as being ‘out of control’ by using intimidation tactics to bring them under their control. Research has shown that young people can be viewed as ‘cheap, effective, and obedient fighters’ (Kemper in Magnuson & Baizerman, 2007). Child Soldiers International has recorded the involvement of tens of thousands of child soldiers in most armed conflicts and in almost every region of the world since 2000, with young people often controlled and exploited as conflict ‘fodder’.

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