Children’s Bill Of Rights – The Right Not To Participate In War or Conflict

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

The following is part of a series of articles on the rights and responsibilities of children and of families.  On our site, we’ve published a Children’s Bill Of Rights, with all of the sections in the bill.  You can take a look at Children’s Bill of Rights.

(To read additional articles about Children’s Rights and the specific rights recommended in the Children’s Bill of Rights, look through this blog, and at Homeschool Hows & Whys.)


Not to participate in war or conflict

Every child has the right to refuse to participate in military service.   Every child has the right to refuse to support any military action or effort that they disagree with.   Every child has the right to walk away from any fight or battle and not “lose face” from having done so.


We are talking about children, not adults.  We are not talking about (in the United States) 18 year-olds, though I would happily debate the wisdom of sending people that young into war before they’ve had any chance to live a life.  And I would certainly debate the right of fat old men and women to send young people into war while they wait in safety and comfort at home for the results and the corpses, hiding behind age and ideology.

Nope, this right deals with young girls and boys impressed into battle.  At the end of WWII, Japanese Emperor Hirohito, faced with devastating defeat, declared that his island people would fight to the last man, woman and child.  Well, that was certainly a guarantee of national extinction.

The Nazis impressed young boys and girls into the Hitler Youth, teaching them from a young age that country came before everything, even God and family.  Such indoctrinated children, as a part of the “war effort”, routinely turned in their own parents to the authorities.

Of course, these two nations devastatingly lost their war.  In part, I believe these were the results because those nations surrendered their right to a future by decimating their children.

As I write this article, there are places in the world that are in upheaval.  Many of these are in the Middle East and Africa, where children are routinely taken from families and forced to serve as “soldiers”.  A twelve year-old soldier, armed and ready to die before he has ever lived?  Is this the desired “result” of a sane civilization.  You know the answer if you yourself are sane.

War is a stupid, lousy, losing game for any civilization to play.  At the very least, for those of you who insist that war has some sort of nobility, that wars are necessary, perhaps we can agree that war is not a game for children.

Earlier in these articles we discussed the proposed right of a child to have and develop his own beliefs.  His beliefs are his.  They may or may not include strong patriotic sentiments.  That is up to the individual, regardless of what a nation or parents may wish.  We each elect to take a a patriotic stance or not.  The idea that we “owe” service to a nation is a terrible perversion of reality.  Nations historically came into existence as dictatorships (kings, or whatever).  The strong man in charge made a deal with the people to protect them in exchange for fealty.  In short, the man in charged was expected to serve the people.  It was his job to organize and protect the citizens of his kingdom.  This truth is the very core of the genesis of government. 

There will always be people who want to serve their country.  There will always be young people who want a fight.  Once they are old enough to make such a decision, it’s up to them to enlist or not, as they see fit.  But a younger child should not even be asked the question.

In times of war where national survival may be at stake, a nation must make the ethical decision that few if any nations seem willing to make – is it worth the death of our youngest, our future hope, in order to keep the current government in power?  Government will always answer “yes” to that question.  That is the very essence of a “vested interest”.

But parents should have the right to stop and think about it.  And children should have the right to refuse to participate.  Children did not start the fight.  Nor did they create the situations that supported its existence.  In brief, a war is not their fight.  War does not belong to young people, it is the property of governments, of the elderly and the “established” who wish to protect what they have, including a “way of life” or ideology.  Sometimes wars are ideologically inspired – but whose ideology is being defended or fought against?  Certainly not the children’s.

On a much smaller scale, bullies love to beat up others.  School violence and bullying has reached epic levels over the past ten years.  They have become national issues.  A child might very well feel that his pride, his reputation is at stake when confronted with a fight that he really does not want.  Any child should have the right to walk away from such a fight and expect the support of family, friends, and society.

In brief – no one should have the ability or right to force a child into a fight.  As adults, we are obligated to keep our children safe.  It is our first and most important job.  War, fights of any sort, are simply not safe.  Sending a child into battle is a violation of the family trust.

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