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Letter to Senators Durbin and Brownback supporting their Child Soldier Prevention Act

June 18, 2007

Dear Senators Durbin and Brownback:

On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we would like to express our support for the Child Soldier Prevention Act (S. 1175). 

NEA members are committed to the protection of children's rights and strongly oppose the exploitation of children around the world. It is deeply troubling that up to 250,000 children are exploited every day as child soldiers, serving in government-supported armed forces and militias, as well as rebel armies. Though the United Nations' adaptation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 2000 has curtailed the use of child soldiers, children continue to be exploited as combatants, porters, human mine detectors, and sex slaves in countries such as Columbia, Sri Lanka, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Children experience higher rates of mortality, injury and disease than their adult counterparts and are more likely to suffer from the effects of war long after the fighting has ceased. 

Noting that the United States ratified the Optional Protocol on the abuse of child soldiers in 2002, it follows that the United States military should not provide assistance to nations that employ and actively recruit child soldiers. Passage of the Child Soldier Prevention Act would ensure that the resources of the United States military are not used to provide military training and financing to nations that continue to exploit children. 

We thank you for your leadership on this important issue.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy