A 14-year old boy and former child soldier from South Sudan, who now lives in a refugee camp in Uganda, walks down a dirt road in a colorful shirt.

Peter’s* story. This former child soldier, was only 10 years old when he was forcibly recruited, armed and trained to kill by South Sudanese fighters – until he escaped two years later. Thanks to you, we’re helping Peter recover and return to learning. Uganda. *Name changed for child’s protection.

Child Soldiers: The Tragic End of Childhood for Boys and Girls in Conflict

There are six UN-verified “grave violations” of children’s rights in conflict. Being recruited and used as a child soldier is one of them.[i]

Save the Children’s Stop the War on Children report, the third in our global series, reveals shocking trends in the threats to innocent children now living and suffering in the world’s war zones:

  • 149 million children – double the number of all children in the U.S.[ii] – live in high-intensity conflict zones, areas experiencing thousands of battle-related deaths each year.
  • Since 2010, there’s been a 34% rise in the number of children living in conflict-affected areas, plus a staggering 170% rise in the number of reported grave violations committed against children in conflict.
  • This includes more child soldiers, as well as those more likely to be killed or maimed, abducted, sexually abused, see their schools or hospitals attacked, or have aid denied to them.
  • Children in conflict are more at risk of harm now than at any time in recorded history.

Child soldiers, boys and girls as young as 8 years old, are being recruited and used not only for fighting, but for sexual exploitation and more in conflicts raging across the globe. This isn’t just a grave violation of children’s fundamental human rights – it represents the tragic end of childhood. The world’s children deserve so much better. We must stop the war on children.


Learn the facts about child soldiers.

Learn the facts about child soldiers.

For over 100 years, Save the Children has been singularly committed to securing children’s rights and serving their needs, giving every child the chance to grow up healthyeducated and safe.

Thanks to supporters like you, we are the global leader in child-focused humanitarian response, including protecting child soldiers and other children from the physical and emotional wounds of war, and ensuring their recovery and rehabilitation.

Learn more about our Stop the War on Children campaign – and how you can help.

**Sources: Unless otherwise noted, facts and statistics have been sourced from Save the Children’s program and monitoring and evaluation experts, as well as published reports.

***Photo credit: Lois Leeson / Save the Children.

[i] Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, 2005.

[ii] United States Census Bureau, 2018.

[iii] The Paris Principles: Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups, 2007.

[iv] The Paris Principles: Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups, 2007.


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