Research Handbook on Child Soldiers
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Research Handbook on Child Soldiers

Edited by Mark A. Drumbl and Jastine C. Barrett

Child soldiers remain poorly understood and inadequately protected, despite significant media attention and many policy initiatives. This Research Handbook aims to redress this troubling gap. It offers a reflective, fresh and nuanced review of the complex issue of child soldiering. The Handbook brings together scholars from six continents, diverse experiences, and a broad range of disciplines. Along the way, it unpacks the life-cycle of youth and militarization: from recruitment to demobilization to return to civilian life. The overarching aim of the Handbook is to render the invisible visible – the contributions map the unmapped and chart new directions. Challenging prevailing assumptions and conceptions, the Research Handbook on Child Soldiers focuses on adversity but also capacity: emphasising the resilience, humanity, and potentiality of children affected (rather than ‘afflicted’) by armed conflict.
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Chapter 10: Retracing the journey of child soldiers and looking for the path to return them home: a report from southern Philippines

David N. Almarez, Ajree D. Malawani, Sittie Akima A. Ali, Princess Mae S. Chua and Primitivo C. Ragandang


This descriptive-qualitative study on child soldiers in the Lanao provinces, located on Mindanao island in southern Philippines, looks into the factors that influenced children to join the armed struggle against the government. The study considers the influence on the children of their madrasah education, their recruitment process, the training they underwent and the duties and responsibilities given to them by the militant group with which they were affiliated. Data were gathered through personal interviews and focus group discussions. Participants were selected through purposive and snowball sampling. This study found the educational background of participants to correlate with their entry into the armed struggle. The participation of child soldiers in armed struggles in southern Philippines is influenced by family and community values which have been recently reinforced through many militant groups being united by the professed objective of establishing an Islamic state. To put an end to child soldier recruitment in the Philippines, it is recommended that the curricular offerings in the madrasah system be streamlined to align with the mission of Philippine education. Furthermore, other stakeholders, such as parents, teachers and religious leaders must be involved in the process of peace-building in the Philippines.

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