Anglia Ruskin University

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The social construction of childhood and its implications on the battlefield

posted on 2023-07-26, 14:20 authored by Michelle L. Jones
Child Soldiers, sometimes referred to as child warriors, are often looked at but equally overlooked within the field of international relations. Non-governmental organisations, charities and media reports all paint a vivid picture of what constitutes a child soldier; usually focusing on their victimhood and their key distinguishing identity; age. The social construction of childhood leads to a ‘one size fits all’ mentality amongst those working with children in war zones which has the potential to lead to more problems in an already chaotic environment. This paper will examine the newly labelled ‘child warrior’ as an actor within the international sphere, examining why the term ‘warrior’ has become affixed and how a more ethnographic approach could benefit those caught up in conflict scenarios. The second part of the paper will seek to examine how the social construction of childhood, imposed by Western thinking and discipline, creates implications for British military forces operating within certain conflict zones. The portrayal of child soldiers in the media and by NGOs has a devastating consequence and effect on military personnel, who relate to common ideas by popular culture associated with children but face a very different, harsh reality on the battlefield which causes further chaos and confusion to an already complex situation.



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Interdisciplinary Press

Place of publication

Oxford, UK

Title of book

Childhood Through the Looking Glass




Vibha Sharma, Ashlie Brink


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Legacy Faculty/School/Department

ARCHIVED Faculty of Health, Social Care & Education (until September 2018)

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