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

A new article on child soldiers and Disarmament Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programmes in Sierra Leone includes comments by Florella Hazeley of the Sierra Leone Action Network on Small Arms (SLANSA).

In the US, the state legislature of Florida recently approved a Bill that would penalise physicians for asking parents if there is a gun kept in their home.

At least 12,200 civilians died in Iraq, in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia in 2010 as a direct result of armed conflict, according to a new report by Oxfam.

The death toll from yesterday's shooting in the Tasso da Silveira primary school, Rio de Janeiro, rose to 13 as a 13 year old boy who had been injured by a bullet died in local hospital late yesterday.

Nine girls and one boy between 12 and 14 years old were killed when a 23-year old entered a classrom in Tasso da Silveira primary school,Rio de Janeiro, and opened fire with two .38 handguns

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.