Children and armed violence

Although the majority of victims of small arms fire are adult males, the tremendous suffering of children has been acknowledged by UNICEF, major children's rights organisations such as Save the Children and the UN Secretary-General in his annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict.

Guns in the home can be accidentally fired by children, especially boys, playing with these deadly weapons. The presence of guns in the home can also traumatise children. Children are also affected by armed conflicts, which rarely distinguish between 'combatants' and 'non combatants'.

Guns have also created the phenomenon of the child soldier, "the most deadly combat system of the current epoch". The Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict came into force in February 2002. It bans the direct use of all children under the age of 18 in hostilities and prohibits all military use of under-18s by non-governmental armed groups.

Latest news

The US-based artist Mike McNeilly Street has created a series of street art murals to highlight the risk of unsafe gun storage to children. In a press release, he highlighted statistics from the national Center for Disease Control

Just over 3,000 children are killed and 17,500 are injured by guns every year in the US, according to the blog site ‘Kid shootings’, run by members of Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation, Protect Minnesota and States United to Prevent Gun Violence.

In Puerto Rico, campaigners for peace and security are encouraging people to promote community safety by not buying toy guns and violent computer games as Christmas presents this year.

In Senegal, IANSA member MALAO is launching the second phase of the educational project “Children peacemakers” in the Casamance region, where an armed conflict has been on going for the past 30 years.

Around 20,600 children are injured by a gun every year in the US, and more than 8,360 die as a result of their injuries, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Latest resources

Instituto Sou da Paz, an IANSA member in Brazil, has launched a practical guide to children's disarmament.

The UN Secretary-General has released his annual report on ‘Children and Armed Conflict’ for 2010.

This document details children and adults killed in shcool shootings since 1996.