Children and war

Pearn, J. (2003) Children and war. Journal of Paediatrics And Child Health, 39 3: 166-172.

Author Pearn, J.
Title Children and war
Journal name Journal of Paediatrics And Child Health   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1034-4810
Publication date 2003
Sub-type Article (original research)
Volume 39
Issue 3
Start page 166
End page 172
Total pages 7
Editor J. M. Court
Place of publication Carlton South, Australia
Publisher Blackwell Publishing Asia
Collection year 2003
Language eng
Subject C1
321019 Paediatrics
730204 Child health
Abstract Children bear disproportionate consequences of armed conflict. The 21st century continues to see patterns of children enmeshed in international violence between opposing combatant forces, as victims of terrorist warfare, and, perhaps most tragically of all, as victims of civil wars. Innocent children so often are the victims of high-energy wounding from military ordinance. They sustain high-energy tissue damage and massive burns - injuries that are not commonly seen in civilian populations. Children have also been deliberately targeted victims in genocidal civil wars in Africa in the past decade, and hundreds of thousands have been killed and maimed in the context of close-quarter, hand-to-hand assaults of great ferocity. Paediatricians serve as uniformed military surgeons and as civilian doctors in both international and civil wars, and have a significant strategic role to play as advocates for the rights and welfare of children in the context of the evolving 'Laws of War'. One chronic legacy of contemporary warfare is blast injury to children from landmines. Such blasts leave children without feet or lower limbs, with genital injuries, blindness and deafness. This pattern of injury has become one of the post-civil war syndromes encountered by all intensivists and surgeons serving in four of the world's continents. The continued advocacy for the international ban on the manufacture, commerce and military use of antipersonnel landmines is a part of all paediatricians' obligation to promote the ethos of the Laws of War. Post-traumatic stress disorder remains an undertreated legacy of children who have been trapped in the shot and shell of battle as well as those displaced as refugees. An urgent, unfocused and unmet challenge has been the increase in, and plight of, child soldiers themselves. A new class of combatant comprises these children, who also become enmeshed in the triad of anarchic civil war, light-weight weaponry and drug or alcohol addiction. The International Criminal Court has outlawed as a War Crime, the conscription of children under 15 years of age. Nevertheless, there remain more than 300 000 child soldiers active and enmeshed in psychopathic violence as part of both civil and international warfare. The typical profile of a child soldier is of a boy between the ages of 8 and 18 years, bonded into a group of armed peers, almost always an orphan, drug or alcohol addicted, amoral, merciless, illiterate and dangerous. Paediatricians have much to do to protect such war-enmeshed children, irrespective of the accident of their place of birth. Only by such vigorous and maintained advocacy can the world's children be better protected from the scourge of future wars.
Keyword Pediatrics
Antipersonnel Landmines
Child Soldiers
Child Victims Of War
Laws Of War
Military Medicine
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Missile Attacks
Medical Support
Officers View
Land Mines
Q-Index Code C1

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
2004 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Medicine Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 28 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 02:27:54 EST