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

IANSA member CEJ (Centre for Judicial Studies) held a workshop on the "Safe Schools - Safe Community" project in Asuncion (Paraguay), 12-13 April.

On 11 March we commemorate the first anniversary of the mass shooting at Albertville Secondary School.

Many IANSA members will mark the Red Hand Day against Child Soldiers on 12 February 2010. Its goal is to raise awareness of the plight of child soldiers through public protests, demonstrations and other activities.

A study carried out by UNICEF in six Eastern Caribbean countries (Anguilla, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat and Saint Kitts and Nevis) explores the perceptions of child sexual abuse, attitudes towards the perpetrators and actions to prevent the abuse. The study details cases in which guns were used to physically threaten children or make them keep silent about the abuse.

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.