Child soldiers

Child soldier. Some words don't belong together.

Key facts and statistics about child soldiers

  • There are an estimated 250,000 child soldiers in the world today.
  • It is estimated that 40% of all child soldiers are girls. They are often used as non-combatant 'wives' (sex slaves) of the male combatants.
  • Child soldiers are recruited by government forces as well as rebel groups.
  • Not all children take part in active combat. Some are also used as porters, cooks and spies.
  • Children are sometimes forced to kill or maim a family member; breaking the bonds with their community and making it difficult for them to return.

How are child soldiers recruited?

  • Some are abducted from their homes and forced to become soldiers.
  • A village may be forced to provide a certain number of children as soldiers in exchange for staying safe from attack.
  • In some rare cases, children volunteer because of ideological reasons or to avenge the death of a family member.
An educated, protected child is unlikely to become a child soldier


Contrary to popular belief, a large proportion of child soldiers volunteer, or are volunteered by their family.

This may be because the life of a child soldier appears preferable to the life they have (although they often don't realise what they are volunteering for).


Take action for child soldiers

Every child has the right to go to school

Children who are not in school are more at risk of being recruited as child soldiers.

World leaders have committed to provide education for all, but more children in conflict are out of school today than a decade ago... and that number is growing.

Right now, world leaders are preparing for the World Humanitarian Summit.

The future of humanitarian action will be determined at this meeting. We want to make sure that education is front and centre.

This is our chance to change a system that neglects the needs and rights of children in war.

Please sign our petition to Justine Greening, UK Secretary of State for International Development, asking her to champion the cause of educating children in war.



What is War Child doing?

We're helping to get children out of army uniforms and into school ones.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic we currently help to reintegrate former child soldiers back into society and education.

School child.

Some words do belong together.

school child
“Some people think that child soldiers are killers; they are not”

Polline, a former child soldier
supported by War Child. Read her story.


You can help

Child soldier. Some words don't belong together. Help us keep them apart.