Child Soldiers

Our book and internationally shown exhibit depict the brutality of child warfare globally, e.g., Guatemala, El Salvador, Sri Lanka, Burma, Nepal, and Sudan.

Nearly half a million children have been engaged in more than 85 conflicts worldwide.


As armed conflict proliferates, an increasing number of children are exposed to the brutalities of war. Boys and girls around the world are forcibly and voluntarily recruited to be child soldiers by armed forces and militant groups. They might have been tricked into service by manipulative recruiters, or joined to escape poverty or discrimination. Others were abducted from school, the streets, or their homes.

Besides participating in combat, many are used for sex, or as spies, messengers, porters, or servants. Child soldiers are even ordered to plant and clear land mines. Children have become the ultimate weapons and targets of 21st Century war.

A boy soldier waits at Kpandroma's transit center. The various warring factions of the country have used children as fighters, porters, cooks, spies and sex slaves. Photo: Cedric Gerbehaye.

PROOF’s Work

PROOF: Media for Social Justice, in partnership with Amnesty International, created the book Child Soldiers to shed light on the inhumanity of child warfare. Featuring the work of photographers and writers from across the globe, the book explores these children’s time as combatants, as well as their demobilization and rehabilitation. It depicts child soldiers in Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Sri Lanka, Burma, Nepal, Afghanistan, Uganda, The Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Palestine, and Iraq. In becoming front-line targets, these children have lost their innocence, youth, and, for many, their lives.

The Child Soldiers exhibit in Mexico.

The Child Soldiers exhibit in Mexico.


Hire the Exhibition

Child Soldiers: Forced to be Cruel, is available for hire. Click here to download specifications, of Contact PROOF for more details.

To see the exhibit on location, check out our gallery here

About the Exhibition

PROOF’s "Child Soldiers: Forced to be Cruel" exhibit is based on a book by Leora Kahn. It features forty photographs taken by talented and devoted photographers that depict child soldiers from around the world, who have been manipulated by war criminals and subjected to unspeakable violence. Their faces show the reality of lost childhood. The frivolity, joy, defiance, or rebellion of youth is replaced by the deadly seriousness of a gun-toting teenager. This is an internationally traveled exhibition that has been shown at the Capitoline Museum in Rome, Italy; the Bonn Kunstmusem in Bonn, Germany; and the U.N. in New York City. It will also be traveling to South Africa, Canada, Spain, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Click here for exhibition specifications and more information.



20 March-17 April 2014
Alliance de Française, Pretoria, South Africa
Presented by The Office of the Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and sponsored by the Canadian Embassy in Durbin

Child Soldiers

Click here to purchase the book, Child Soldiers, edited by PROOF Executive Director Leora Kahn.

I did not want to fight anymore, but if they said to go to the front line, you had to go. We had to walk for days without getting any sleep or food. I was very sad when I had to see my friends die. Within the group, I experienced war, hunger, and cold.
— Mercedes, former child soldier