Chart Exercise

New York Times Upfront, November 27, 2000 | Go to article overview

Chart Exercise


Where Child Soldiers Serve

An estimated 300,000 persons under age 18 serve in the world's armies and militias. The chart at left shows, for 64 nations, whether they are involved in conflicts and the estimated number of soldiers under 18 active on their territory or in their military forces.

The chart also lists the official minimum ages at which young people may either volunteer for, or be drafted into, those nations' armed forces. But beware: In many countries, reality may differ from official policy. For example, officially reported minimum ages don't reflect it, but an estimated 27 countries use children under t5 in their military forces.

(*) Some U.K. troops under 18 are peacekeepers in Kosovo.

(**) U.S. volunteers may serve at 16 with parents' written permission.

1. Refer to the map of the student edition. In which African country would you find the most child soldiers?

2. In which country is there a four-year gap between the official draft age and the age at which volunteers are accepted?

3. In February, the world learned that 12-year-old twins, Johnny and Luther Htoo, headed a rebel group known as God's Army. There are more child soldiers in their country than in any other. Which country?

4. In which countries in the Americas may young people under 17 volunteer for military service? (Refer to map.)

5. The chart shows that there are child soldiers in some countries where the official draft or volunteer age is 18. What do you think accounts for the fact that young people below age 18 are performing military service in these countries?

6. Note that there are no official estimates of the numbers of child soldiers serving in most of the countries on the chart. Why do you believe that international human rights groups have been unable to provide accurate data on the numbers of child soldiers in so many countries?

Source: Quaker Office, United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland.

Chart Exercise, TE 5

1. Sudan. 2. Iraq. 3. Burma (Myanmar). 4. Canada, Chile, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru--and the U.S., if volunteers have parental permission. 5. Governments may or may not adhere to their military-service laws; rebel groups do not. 6. Governments and rebel groups refuse to provide information that could lead to criticism from other nations.

                                  Child
Country             Conflict     Soldiers

Afghanistan         Yes              ?
Algeria             Yes              ?
Angola              Yes            7,000
Australia           No               ?
Austria             No               ?
Bangladesh          Yes              ?
Bhutan              No              700
Botswana            No               ?
Burma (Myanmar)     Yes            56,000
Burundi             Yes         8,000-10,000
Cambodia            Yes              ?
Canada              No               ?
Chile               No               ?
China               No               ?
Colombia            Yes         9,000-20,000
Congo-Brazzaville   Yes              ?
Congo/Dem. Rep.     Yes         6,000-20,000
Croatia             No               ?
Cuba                No               ?
Dominican Rep.      No               ?
El Salvador         No               ?
Ethiopia            Yes              ?
Finland             No               ?
Germany             No               ?
Greece              No               ?
Guinea-Bissau       Yes              ?
India               Yes              ? … 

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