Children On The Front Line



Following the afternoon play "Three Soldiers,"

Mike Thomson reports from Northern Iraq on the changing role of child soldiers.

Aid organisations estimate that there are around 300,000 children involved with armed groups worldwide, but with the escalation of the conflict in Syria the number is likely to be much greater.

Children are on the Front Line as never before. They're being recruited in new ways and used in more roles. Many will bear arms - others will act as porters or cooks. 40% of them are girls, who may be married off to combatants or otherwise sexually exploited.

The traditional image of the child soldier is of the boy forced to fight after being many are volunteering after being ideologically groomed or encouraged by their parents and communities. Should such youngsters continue to be seen as victims or held responsible for their actions? And what can be done to stop this trend and keep children out of conflicts?

Producer: Rosie Dawson.