Kindergarten Killers: Morality, Murder and the Child Soldier Problem


Faulkner, Frank. 2001. “Kindergarten Killers: Morality, Murder and the Child Soldier Problem.” Third World Quarterly 22 (4): 491–504.

Author: Frank Faulkner


The argument advanced refers to the problem of children serving as soldiers in various military or quasi-military groups around the world. It looks to international law for guidelines on how this situation might be brought to an end, examining legislation currently in force, and also why enforcement has proved to be problematical. Given the apparent inadequacies of legal instruments to prevent this type of issue occurring, this article takes a closer examination of the conditions that create underage combatants, together with analysis of the effects this has on the young people involved. In support of these observations, the text offers a real world look at the problem in Sierra Leone, a country that has suffered years of divisive internecine warfare featuring the extensive use of children in combat roles. In a postwar situation, the study includes analysis of the difficulties of rehabilitating Sierra Leonian children traumatised by combat experiences, which reflects on the larger dilemma of national reconciliation and peace building.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Boys, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2001

© 2023 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at