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

In Brazil, Instituto Sou da Paz is selecting two projects by young people to 'Disarm the Mind' with a focus on gun control and alternatives to armed violence.

More than 150 women and boys were raped by rebels from the Mai Mai militia and Rwandan Hutu FDLR when they occupied the town of Luvungi in North Kivu.

To mark International Youth Day, Amnesty International Peru and the Colombia Network organised an event on 15 August.

In Nigeria, more than 800 young people and fifteen media organisations attended an event to mark International Youth Day on 12 August.

As people in the United States commemorated the anniversaries of the Virginia Tech shooting (16 April) and Columbine (20 April) mass shootings, survivors and gun control advocates continue to work to make American gun laws stronger and keep weapons out of schools, homes and communities.

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.