Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2017-09-13
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

The Child Soldier: From the Congo to Chicago
Open To Thinking, A recurring column
by Nick Patricca with Katherine Kaufka Walts
2016-02-03

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


The forced use of a child in armed conflicts profoundly injures the person coerced and gravely insults the idea of the dignity of a human being—an essential value of our civilization and of our self-understanding.

UNICEF estimates that more than 300,000 boys and girls under the age of 18 have been forced in over 30 conflicts worldwide to use violence against others. In these armed conflicts, children are used as soldiers, messengers, smugglers of drugs and arms, and sex slaves. Some children are forcibly recruited; others are driven to join by poverty or debt. Some are 'recruited' with drugs, made compliant by addiction.

In the complex interaction of violence and social systems, some children join armed groups to seek revenge for violence enacted against them or their families. ISIS has been recruiting boys as young as 10 to be suicide bombers. Nigeria's Boko Haram has been abducting scores of young women and selling them as sex slaves as well as using boys as combatants.

The issue of the child soldier came to the forefront in our Western media when the Lord's Resistance Army, one of Africa's oldest armed groups, forcibly recruited more than 65,000 children between 1986-2006 ( UNICEF ) as armed combatants for their wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and adjacent countries.

Most of the child soldiers we hear about are in wars far from our borders. But street gangs in the United States can operate at times like armed groups in other parts of the world. Adult gang members often begin their lives in the gangs as children, starting as messengers, errand boys, or drug mules and then graduating to larger crimes. Some of our urban gang members in fact come from civil wars and drug wars in other countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico.

In many situations, the conceptual lines distinguishing a child soldier and a child gang member are hard to draw.

In one of her first cases as an attorney, Katherine Kaufka Walts, co-author of this column, worked with 'Frederick,' a bright, teenage boy, brought to the United States from West Africa to be a drug runner for his uncles who operated a drug smuggling network between Texas and Chicago. Frederick would have preferred to be in school, but his uncles made it clear, through psychological and physical coercion and abuse, that he had no other option than to work for them. Eventually, Frederick escaped and received a T-visa as a victim of human trafficking.

Frederick is not alone. For many Chicago youth, there are little perceived or actual alternatives to survival in violent communities ruled by gangs, much like the stories of their brother and sister child combatants in other parts of the world.

Studies are emerging drawing parallels between the child soldier and urban youth in gangs, between war zones and urban zones of endemic violence—social, emotional, and economic as well as physical.

Mental health researchers such as Patricia K. Kerig have identified parallels with the trauma effects of child soldiers and urban youth involved in criminal gangs. While trauma typically is understood as a result of victimization, children who are forced to commit acts of violence, whether they are child soldiers in Africa or child gang members in El Salvador or Mexico or Chicago, suffer post-traumatic reactions on a par with those who are victimized.

In her March 2013 essay, "Child Soldiers, Gang Members: Reconceptualizing Urban Violence in America," Valerie Strattan Guerra makes insightful parallels between the child soldiers in war zones and the urban child gang members in Chicago 'combat zones'—indicating how we might apply the therapeutic insights from the studies of the child soldiers to our management of our children caught in violence.

Knowing what we know about child soldiers, gang-involved youth, and trauma, we need more study and exploration of how to better respond to Chicago's gang-involved youth. Instead of treating gang-involved youth simply as criminals, we should acknowledge the nuances of their crimes within a trauma-informed framework to address the injustices they've experienced, as well as those suffered by the community.

We hope the authorities in Chicago are prepared to join this effort to re-think police and judicial responses to the systemic violence in our city that is destroying too many of our children.

© nicholas.patricca@gmail.com

Nick Patricca is professor emeritus at Loyola University Chicago, president of Chicago Network and playwright emeritus at Victory Gardens Theater.

Katherine Kaufka Walts is the Director of the Center for the Human Rights of Children and a faculty member of the School of Law at Loyola University Chicago where she specializes in child trafficking.


facebook twitter google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Lambda, allies to Supreme Court: Trump's Muslim ban unconstitutional 2017-09-18 - Lambda Legal joined allied religious and civil-rights organizations and members of the clergy today in telling the U.S. Supreme Court that President Donald ...


Gay News

City clears out Uptown tent residents 2017-09-18 - In a chaotic early morning scene Sept. 18, city authorities evicted persons who had been residing beneath Lake Shore Drive viaducts at Wilson ...


Gay News

Palm Center Statement on Bipartisan Support for Senate Bill to Block Trump's Transgender Ban 2017-09-15 - SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Palm Center Director Aaron Belkin issued the following statement in response to today's introduction of a stand-alone bill to ...


Gay News

Groups tell courts: Ban already harming transgender troops, U.S. military 2017-09-15 - ( SEATTLE, September 14, 2017 ) — Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN today asked a federal court to halt immediately all steps taken to ...


Gay News

Advocates: Trump working to weaken protection against sex, gender discrimination 2017-09-15 - Washington — Even as another attempt surfaces in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid funding, the Trump administration is ...


Gay News

NOW endorses Black Women's March and March for Racial Justice 2017-09-13 - Washington, DC - The National Organization for Women is proud to officially endorse the March for Black Women, and the March for Racial ...


Gay News

Brave Space Alliance to create trans drop-in spot in new home 2017-09-13 - The building that will be the new home of Brave Space Alliance ( a space that belongs to the Let Us Breathe Collective ...


Gay News

National roundup: Lesbian ex-mayor, Spelman College, DJ fatally shot 2017-09-13 - Lesbian ex-Houston Mayor Annise Parker responded when conservative political pundit Ann Coulter tweeted, "I don't believe Hurricane Harvey is God's punishment for Houston ...


Gay News

World news: UK hate crimes, intersex report, Irma damages center 2017-09-13 - A survey has shown that the number of attacks on lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the UK has soared by nearly 80 ...


Gay News

Gay Seattle mayor resigns 2017-09-13 - Openly gay Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has announced his resignation in the wake of a new sexual-abuse allegation against him—this time, from a ...


 



Copyright © 2017 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.