The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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More attention should be paid to child soldiers

The use of children in war, and their subsequent education about how to evade people who want to use them or how to use the weapons of war, is a tragic testament to the idea that children are no longer children, but small commodities.

A documentary, “Invisible Children” was made by three college-aged adults about the times they travel from San Diego, Calif. to northern Uganda.

The Americans witness the young children of the villages making a nightly trek into the cities so they won’t be kidnapped by the revolutionary group Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA. The children return the next day to their villages to help in the daily responsibilities and activities that are needed.

The scenes are reminiscent of many that are currently on television and the Internet. Children posed as soldiers or children running away from the effects of war, whether civil or against a foreign enemy.

That is the biggest problem for me. There are so many scenes on the news or in movies about children no longer being treated as children, and they are unable to defend themselves against the exposure and being taken advantage of.

The movie “Blood Diamond” has the exact same imagery, except that I

know is only a movie. That makes it all the more difficult to look at the scenes of northern Uganda. I already know what to expect.

It should never be acceptable to diminish the plights of children, especially those in war-torn countries or nations that face constant famine. With media so readily available to expose these children, they have no defense for themselves.

The audience, myself included, becomes desensitized to the point where the only emotive reaction is changing the channel. When is it enough to make us want to make a difference?

According to the Canadian International Development Agency, more than 300,000 children, some as young as seven, are soldiers in wars throughout the world.

I wonder about the level of apathy in the young adults of civilized nations, such as the U.S., today. I wonder if there is anything that young adults will stand up for more than their SUVs, their “bling” or their tickets to the hottest upcoming concert of the summer.

The amount of money that is wasted on things that are so unnecessary and image-based is absurd. Do I really need a purse from Tod’s or Gucci that costs more than $1,400, or can I come up with better things to spend my time and money on?

How can media be so two-faced? That’s simple, to me. There are people who care and want to make a difference, such as those who went to Uganda to document the tragedies that are occurring there. There are also public relations and marketing agencies that feed the culture of greed and consumerism that runs rampant in civilized nations.

Having lived in South Africa, I have witnessed only a little of the beauty and tragedy that so easily defines the continent of Africa. I watched children peddle wares on the streets and shine shoes.

These children didn’t have the chance to afford school or play with friends during summer days. They worked, only to hope they made enough in the day to help buy mele-pop, a type of cornmeal, for their family to eat.

I never saw children forced to fight in wars, but I know that it occurs more than I can even imagine. According to the “Invisible Children” Web site, there is a tentative peace agreement between the government of Uganda and the LRA that has been approved by the US.

I can only hope that there is an end to the ravaging of the people and the country of Uganda, but more than anything, I hope for the children. Every day, they face the fact that they might be kidnapped and brainwashed into holding a gun and killing their own parents, uncles, aunts and other members of their communities.

When will the atrocities end? When, as a world society, will we decide that all children deserve to just be children?

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