According to the website of Human Rights Watch as of July 2007:
“ In over twenty countries around the world, children are direct participants in war. Denied a childhood and often subjected to horrific violence, an estimated 200 000 to 300 000 children are serving as soldiers for both rebel groups and government forces in current armed conflicts.”
Under the terms of Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions, children over the age of fifteen who have volunteered can be used as spotters, observers, message-carriers.
In cases where children have taken part in combat, recruiting parties have active measures to counter their reluctance, such as forcing child recruits to commit brutalities and to take drugs like marijuana, amphetamines and "brown-brown" that inhibit guilt and fear. Propaganda, revenge and fear of being left alone influence children to "voluntarily" stay in the army. Children have been both participants in and victims of atrocities.