Statement of intent: The purpose of my writing is to develop an overall understanding of the issues surrounding child soldiers, and how New Zealand’s differing society can help guide these corrupted nations towards a more balanced and non-violent existence. I would like to show how war was something New Zealand went through, and how it isn’t an environment children should grow up in. War was something that helped shape our identity, but it is also one of the worst parts of our history. If we can take this knowledge and experience from our own participation of the war, we can use it towards helping to stop young child in foreign countries from having to face the same fate. The issue of child soldiers needs to end. The style I aim to use with this piece of writing is formal and persuasive, and the text type will be a research essay/report. My writing is aimed at teenagers, to help them understand how different the lives of the unfortunate are compared to our own. I want them to gain a better understanding of the issues surrounding child soldiers, including the environments they grow up in, the increases in numbers of child soldiers, and how different their lives are to ours. They need to understand the links between New Zealand’s participation in the war, and how similar the experiences of the soldiers who fought there would be to the child soldiers of today. I intend to engage my audience through the use of language features and by relating to today’s society. Using these techniques will allow them to relate it to their own experiences and gain a more in-depth understanding of what I’m going to discuss.
“Children belong on playgrounds, not battlegrounds. The use of child soldiers is one of the most egregious human right violations of our times”
The issue of child soldiers dates back for hundreds of years. It should be ancient history by now, it needs to end. Children should be playing “catch the villain”, not kill the villain. Even the most basic of human rights should be preventing this obvious breech of children’s safety, however the numbers are ever increasing, and the environments in which these children grow up in are far from ideal. Being denied access to food, water, or other basic human rights is a common occurrence for these children. In New Zealand, we have been privileged with a wonderful way of life that is almost the complete opposite of the lives given to child soldiers. These privileges ensure a far safer and happier childhood for kiwi children than these soldiers, simply because because of the environment they were lucky enough to grow up in. To put it into context, if a child was born in New Zealand, to a family who were not as well off as you, to a family who struggled to put dinner on the table each night, would you sit back and allow the child to be forced into slavery? Would you let any child of New Zealand be taken unwillingly from their homes, to be forced into murdering other children that sit in a similar position? No. You wouldn’t. Why not? Because that child could be your own, because that child could be your niece, or nephew, because that child could have grown into an influential and integral part of New Zealand’s future development. So if you wouldn’t let a child of New Zealand be taken, why would you let a child of any other nation? I think the answer is simple. These children? They don’t live here. You don’t know the child affected. In fact, you don’t know anyone affected by such a corrupted government system. You think, “why should I care, this has nothing to do with me”. Maybe not, but if that was your child getting abducted and forced into cold blooded murder, would you want people to help? If you knew that there were people who could save your child, would you want them to? However, for many people, the reason they don’t get involved, don’t try to help these children is because they don’t know how. But it is not a time to wait for everyone else to find a way of fixing this evident problem, it’s a time for you to. There are ways in which we can, and need to help. For example, promoting awareness of these issues, before child soldiers become an act of normality. New Zealander’s were participants in the world wars, and understand the horrific circumstances of which it can put a society into. War was something that helped shape our identity, but it is also one of the worst parts of our history. If we can take this knowledge and experience from our own participation of the war, we can use it to help stop young children in foreign countries from having to face the same fate. The main issues surrounding the issue of child soldiers are the growth in the numbers of children growing up in armed conflict, the increase in child soldiers, and the massive differences between the societies they live in, compared to those of teenagers living in safer environments, such as our own.
The increase of children growing up in armed conflict is becoming a mounting problem in which greatly affects the individual lives they lead. It results in a decrease of the levels of education these children are getting, and highlights issues around the safety of children in refugee camps. If children are growing up in armed conflict, chances are that the levels of education they’re receiving are low. When the children are taken, they are told that once they have killed someone, they can no longer go back and lead normal lives with their families. This consequence is horrific for young children to be facing. If you were taken away against your will, and told that the only way to survive was to kill or be killed, how would you react? If you were then told that if you were to kill anyone, you can never go home and live as you had previously, what would you do? If you were told that if you so much as tried to escape, you would be killed, what would you say? In New Zealand, we are privileged with good education, and therefore it is often hard to understand the daily struggles in which these kids go through to access education. “If countries continue to employ four times as many soldiers as teachers, education and social systems will remain fragile and inadequate, and Governments will continue to fail children and break the promises made to them through ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child”. This quote depicts the errors in which governments are making, and illustrates how the need for teachers is far greater than the need for soldiers. Education is a far more useful weapon than guns and explosives, and the education of children will see a more substantial change in the structures of the country than soldiers and war. For example, it the Ugandan government focused on developing and improving their country rather than forcing its economic growth, rebel groups wouldn’t be so common and fewer children would be deprived of education. A switch in the focus of a powerful government could save the lives of thousands of children. Another issue that is produced from children growing up in armed conflict is how they often feel excluded from mainstream society, and eventually turn to war. “The children most likely to become soldiers are from impoverished and marginalised backgrounds or separated from their families.” This quote explains how most child soldiers often come from backgrounds filled with violence and conflict. They stay in circumstances of which they grew up in, because to them that’s normal. To them, the horrors of war are what they grew up with, and therefore continue that into their adult lives. In New Zealand, the soldiers that went to war were doing it as a heroic act, and as a form of patriotism. They left homes of safety to find danger and adventure. For children in these war ravaged countries, they’re becoming soldiers because they need to leave their homes of danger, to find the safety in which the army will provide. The increase of children growing up in armed conflict is becoming a mounting problem to today’s society. This problem leads into how children in these circumstances don’t get the same access to substantial education, and how those who grow up in violent and war ravaged areas, often are the most likely to become child soldiers. To end the use of child soldiers, these problems need to be fixed.
Increases in child soldiers are another issue that needs to end. This increase is generally caused because the armies and structure of the conflict regimes are often attractive to homeless or less privileged children, because it proposes a means of survival. This also shows flaws in the structures of refugee camps, and how we need to improve the protection of children. “Sometimes, children become soldiers simply in order to survive. Children may join if they believe that this is the only way to guarantee regular meals, clothing or medical attention.” This quote explains how a common reason for children to become soldiers is because it provides a sense of security and survival for them. If a child is faced with the decision between joining an army where they get clothes, food, water, and shelter, or struggling to survive alone around their hometown as their families are already dead, it’s easy to understand why so many choose the former option. The prospects of becoming a child soldier are more attractive to underprivileged children as they often provide a more solid means of survival than simply trying to survive on their own. New Zealand has almost always provided a means of basic levels of safety for all of its inhabitants. To be living in this kind of violent environment is practically unheard of here, but it was once a reality for our ANZAC troops. We have laws in place to uphold the protection of children, and is another reason why we should be standing up for the rights of children in other countries living as child soldiers because it’s the only means of safety and protection they can access, as our rights have already been stood up for. Another issue that’s causing an increase of child soldiers is the little amount of protection provided to children in poorer areas, and refugee camps. “Armed conflict leads to a breakdown in the family support systems so essential to a child’s survival and development. Other forms of protection also slip away, particularly government and community support systems”. This quote explains how when children are growing up in areas of armed conflict, it isn’t uncommon for many of their social structures to fall down as well. This means that the need for child protection is an ever increasing problem for the younger generation, and is something that needs to be improved should any serious action be taken against attempts at decreasing the number of child soldiers that there are. The structures of New Zealand’s society are very strong, and would model well to those in more under developed countries. The only armed conflicts that we have participated in were to support other nations, and the only wars seen on our home ground haven’t been active since the Maori land wars. This shows that children in New Zealand haven’t had to grow up in circumstances like those of child soldiers, and therefore should be something we need to help develop in other countries. We can spread our ‘Kiwi Culture’ across other nations, and be a role model in which other societies can develop to. Increases in child soldiers are a mounting problem that needs to be resolved. When looking at it, there are two main factors which contribute to its increase greatly – how becoming a soldier provides survival for homeless and underprivileged children, and how great increases in the level of protection of children need to be taken. These problems need to be fixed before any real change in the declining of child soldiers will be seen
The differences seen between the societies that we live in compared to those of child soldiers are huge. Two factors that stem from this are how different our “normal” is, and how war should not be stealing children’s futures. “Somebody being shot in front of you, or you yourself shooting somebody became just like drinking a glass of water “. This quote was taken from a young child soldier who grew up with the horrors of war. It is describing how to them, murders and violence is just everyday life, it’s how their day goes and that’s how they live. However to us, the idea of this being any kind of normal is horrifying. Our normal is to go to good schools with good education, live healthy lives, with good families, but to them, that’s more than they could ever dream of. For there to be such different circumstances to live in is almost unbelievable. This leads onto the second point of how war should not be stealing children’s futures. “We don’t want to see another child giving up their dreams and visions about their life for being in harsh circumstances they don’t belong to. War is already a bad circumstance for adults, let alone for innocent children that are supposed to taste the excitement of education. War should not steal a child’s future and for whatever reasons, it will never be justifiable. Children are dropping out of childhood.” This quote depicts how children should not have lives of horror and war, they should be having educated lives with dreams they can achieve. War shouldn’t be taking this opportunity away from them, and they shouldn’t be removed from their childhood’s. It’s just not right. New Zealand kids get access to almost every opportunity under the sun. We can create any future we like, and we know that we can achieve that from the day we develop these ideas on our future. The differences seen between our society and the societies of child soldiers are far too much. The contrast seen between our “normal” and their “normal” isn’t acceptable, and neither is war stealing a child’s future. These issues need to be resolved before we can start helping and preventing child soldiers effectively.
Child soldiers are not something that should be accepted into today’s society, and need to be something New Zealand helps to abolish. The leading factors to it are how children are already growing up in violent areas of armed conflict, which thereby decreases the levels of education they’re getting, and how children become child soldiers because they’re living in the same circumstances in which they grew up – it give a sense of familiarity. Increasing numbers of child soldiers is also a factor, as well as how it provides a means of survival to homeless and underprivileged children, and how these child soldiers need far better means of protection if we want any hope of decreasing the numbers in which they’re growing. Finally, the differences between our societies are far too big, and the contrasts between our “normal” is far too much. This also went onto the point surrounding how children should not have their chances at good futures taken away by the violence and atrocities of war. War was something New Zealand went through, and how it isn’t an environment children should grow up in. War was something that helped shape our identity, but it is also one of the worst parts of our history. If we can take this knowledge and experience from our own participation of the war, we can use it to help stop young child in foreign countries having to face the same fate. There are far too many problems with the way our society is attempting at rectifying the problems surrounding child soldiers. More needs to be done to take them away from such horrifying situations, and we need to start decreasing the gap between how different our lives are. Children should be playing “catch the villain” not kill the villain. The use of child soldiers needs to stop.
By Dharma Bratley
Statement of intent: The purpose of my writing is to develop an overall understanding of the events leading up to World War I, and how New Zealand’s participation in war affected our society. I would like to show how war was something New Zealand, and the world, went through, and some of the key reasons why it occurred. War was something that helped shape our identity, but it is also one of the worst parts of our history. If we can educate more people about the reasons behind war, we can both help prevent it from occurring again, and hopefully inform more people how even the smallest of activities can produce the largest of consequences. The style I aim to use with this piece of writing is formal and expository, and the text type will be an article. My writing is aimed at teenagers, to help them understand why war occurred, and how our actions often have much bigger consequences. I want them to gain a better understanding of the this. They need to understand the links between the build up to war, and how similar this can be to our simple, everyday lives. I intend to engage my audience through the use of language features and by relating to the simplicity of everyday life. The use of these techniques will allow them to relate it to their own experiences and gain a more in-depth understanding of what I’m going to discuss.
A single bullet sparked World War One.
Just one single gunshot lead to the mobilisation of 65,038,810 forces.
One death led to 8,528,831 others.
That’s 37,466,904 casualties that were counted. 274,111 Anzacs.
It doesn’t include the 7,750,919 men that didn’t return home because they were prisoners, or simply were never seen again.
That’s 45,217,823 men that didn’t go home without injury.
19,820,987 men were the lucky few who only lost their minds and hearts on those battle fields.
Just one bullet.
But of course, history has never made a simple mistake. It’s made many. These soldiers were the creators of history. Their letters, poems, and seemingly insignificant memories are what we remember them by. Sad, lost boys who left home looking for a sense of adventure, and gained far more than they needed. Understanding the reasons behind such catastrophic casualty rates is like trying to understand why a butterfly can fly; there isn’t a reason so much as it could. It could fly so it did. The war could happen, so it did. But looking into the process of a flying butterfly, of the creation of war, is where it gets interesting.
We all know a butterfly’s cycle. The first step is the egg. Now, a butterfly egg is quite small and seems rather insignificant compared to the other stages of the cycle, but it is the beginning, and therefore one of the most important. German aggression was the egg of the war. Kaiser Wilhelm II was the king of Germany, and had a twisted view of the world. He believed Germany should be a world power, and thereby introduced Weltpolitik to achieve this. The policies of Weltpolitik varied, but together they produced an arms race. This was where Germany wanted to try and get more land to seem more powerful, and the only way to do that was to take it from other people. So Germany tried to take more land, and everyone else tried to protect theirs and get more themselves, thus causing an arms race where everyone tried to get bigger guns to both protect their country and use it to get rid of anyone who tried to stop them taking other land. This led to the development of the Schlieffen plan, where Germany attempted to invade France and take Alsace Lorraine, a strip of land between the two counties. In theory this was a good plan. As Germany is a landlocked country, shutting down one border would mean they would only have to fight on one side rather than two if war were to break out. However, the execution of this plan went a bit pear shaped, and resulted in France getting angry at Germany, who didn’t get the land, and had to fight even harder on two fronts. So the egg of the war was planted, and the European countries were both angry, and wanted to show off their guns to prove how much of a world power they were – a deadly combination.
The second part of the cycle is the caterpillar. A bug with lots of legs that can move and eat and meet other caterpillars like itself. The caterpillar is a strange creature, much like a human. Of course, we’re not 5 centimetres long, green and yellow striped, with too many legs, but we share the quality of strangeness and a predictable unpredictable-ness. Almost everyone ever born has a certain patriotic streak for their country. If not the country you were born in, then certainly one you grew up in or spent a while exploring. Patriotism is good. Patriotism is the reason so many soldiers stalked the dead men before them into such a blood and bodied wasteland. But nationalism is not. Nationalism is the extremity of patriotism, where people put down other countries to make their own sound better. The anger and resentment was widespread across Europe, and it wasn’t long before nationalism seeped into education and literature. The effects of these were not positive. Children were being brought up in a society that openly degraded and blamed other nations for their own failures. French children were told Germany had tried to steal their two children: Alsace and Lorraine, while Germans were taught that they were surrounded by enemies who could not be trusted. These ideas meant that whole generations were bred to despise each other, and never looked upon each other kindly. This would only fuel the war further. Literature romanticised war, and encouraged the ideology that war was a good thing, and would quickly and effectively solve disputes between nations. They explained that war was a necessity for history, and further for the developments of mankind. It started the ideas of nationalism which were further promoted by newspapers. Newspapers often stretched the truth for publicity, and brought an intensity to the idealisation of of war. Nationalism was the moving, growing, evolving caterpillar for the war.
The third stage of the cycle is the cocoon, where the caterpillar winds itself up into a little comfortable pouch, and develops into a glorious butterfly. However, as an analogy for war, this stage is closely linked to the relationships, alliances, and diplomacy that developed in the years leading to the war, as this is where it’s developments and creation finally start to develop. The first was the French/German rivalry that developed after the dire attempt of invasion by German forces, the Schlieffen plan. The relationship between these two nations was not at its best. The second was the triple entente, an alliance between France, Russia, and England, something that shocked Germany because France was known for being indecisive about what side they were on, a quality which the English had a strong distaste for. However, although Germany was mad, they still decided to create the dual alliance with Austria-Hungary, because neither country stood any chance against the triple entente. This further led to the third development, the Treaty of London. This treaty was between England and Belgium, whereby Britain swore to protect Belgium as it was a neutral country.
This of course led to the butterfly. On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand (the son of the emperor of Austria-Hungary) was shot dead in Sarajevo by six Serbian assassins. The reason for his death was an attempt to break off Austria-Hungary’s South Slav provinces so they could be combined into a Yugoslavia. Austria-Hungary was look down upon Serbia for this, and after much debate over the punishment of the assassins, Serbia decided to begin an invasion by mobilising its army. They sent a few members of their military across the river between Austria-Hungary and Serbia, while the Austro-Hungarian soldiers fired warning shots. Austria-Hungary then declared war and mobilised its army, and due to the Dual Alliance, Germany was obliged to support Austria-Hungary in these endeavours. However, under the Secret Treaty of 1892, Russia and France were forced to mobilise their armies if any member of the Triple Entente mobilised. As Russia was such a strong world power, their mobilisation was reacted to by Austria-Hungary and Germany by full mobilisations. It wasn’t long before all of the great world powers had picked sides and gone to war. Except Italy.
So I suppose all that is left is the flight of that poor innocent butterfly. As it opens its heavy, brightly coloured wings for the first time, it’s potential is still unknown. But for World War One? It was the greatest war, the bloodiest battle, one of the worst periods of history that the world had ever seen.
By Dharma Bratley