Sierra Leone: Child Soldiers

Charlie Abrams

World History 2


Sierra Leone: Child Soldiers

            At the age of 13, Ishmael Beah was given a gun, drugged up, and brainwashed to kill. In 1993, his native country, Sierra Leone, was in a large civil war over blood diamonds. Ishmael’s village was attacked and he was separated from his parents. He was forcibly recruited into the Sierra Leone army. At the age of 15, he was rescued by UNICEF. He was one of the lucky few. It took him two years to recover from drug addiction and trauma and now lives in New York (Gettleman, 2007). This is just one boy who was saved and properly treated. Child soldiers in Sierra Leone need to be helped.

            The children in Sierra Leone have lost their innocence. Diamonds were at great demand and were of great worth. This caused corruption and ignited a conflict that resulted in the murder of over a half million people, which was mostly forced to be done by child soldiers (Ashby, 2002). Children’s innocence was brutally and unfairly stolen from them. Children as young as six were given cocaine and marijuana to roam the battlefields and destroy their own country (Crane, 2008). They were forced to kill their own parents. What was done to these children was evil and just plain inhumane. And now they are basically left for dead with no one to help them.

            Warlords need to be detained for their actions. The warlords, commanders, and politicians have gotten away with far too much. It is bad enough that they have killed their own people in a civil war over diamonds, but to take advantage of children. To force them to kill their own people, put them on drugs, and ruin almost any chance of a future for them. That is just about as low as humanity can sink. Not only that, but there is an international law against the use of child soldiers in warfare (Crane, 2008). These people are monsters that must be apprehended for their actions. If men like this are still out there, they have the power to start up a war at anytime and will use child soldiers. As long as these people are free, child soldiers’ lives are still at stake.

Child soldiers in Sierra Leone need to be helped. Children were slaughtered, raped, maimed, and exploited as soldiers. This has been going on since the Sierra Leoneans gained independence over forty years ago. Civil war broke out in the 1990s and children were drugged and brainwashed to kill their own country (Ashby, 2002). When this bloody war finally came to an end in 2002, Sierra Leone was left in ruins and now child soldiers find themselves with no families, no education, physical and psychological damage, and a society unable to help them rebuild their lives. It is hard for them to even get through a week and there is no hope (Crane, 2008). These child soldiers are in desperate need for anyone, or anything to save them. Until then, they are just waiting for the next war to bring them back to their only life they know- fighting, raping, pillaging, and murdering their fellow citizens.


Annotated Bibliography

Ashby, Phil (2002, December 1). “Child Combatants: A Soldier’s Perspective.

The Lancet.


This source gave me specific information on child soldiers in Sierra Leone.


Crane, David (2008, April 8). “Child Soldiers”. Congressional Testimony.

Syracuse, New York.


This source helped me to form my opinion on child soldiers in Sierra Leone, and gave me some great information.


Gettleman, Jeffrey (2007, September 3). “The Perfect Weapon”.

New York Times Upfront.


This source gave me a first person perspective and helped me write my introduction.

last updated by Charlie Abrams May 22, 2009