The school year is back in full-swing and we are looking to engage even more young people on the issues of child soldiers.

Child Soldiers International is running an initiative, designed to help school children learn the importance of speaking out against the injustices they see across the world and help us raise awareness to end the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict.

We believe that by involving schools and students in our Red Hand Day campaign we can multiply our efforts to ensure that no child is recruited for war and bring an end to the abhorrent use of child soldiers.

In many countries around the world – from Democratic Republic of Congo to Myanmar to Syria - children are being recruited by adults to fight their wars for them. Some child soldiers are used for fighting – they’re armed with weapons and trained how to use them in wars and conflicts, to kill, and commit other acts of violence.

Some are also used as cooks, porters, messengers, informants or spies, and some girls will become ‘wives’ of men in the armed groups. Many children are forced through violence into armed groups, though some join ‘voluntarily’, driven by poverty, a sense of duty or for protection in a world of conflict and violence where they have no other alternatives. These children, like all children, deserve to be safe and cared for, and to not have their worlds torn apart by or be exploited for adult wars. 

Alongside our dedicated teaching resources and lesson plans, we have our Red Hand Day Campaign for schools. Red Hand Day, also known as the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers, is an annual commemoration day for child soldiers. It falls on the 12th of February, when pleas are made to world leaders to better protect children from being recruited by fighting forces. 

Each year we use the day to amplify our calls to end the use of child soldiers and your school can help us do this!

How to participate 

Participating in our global Red Hand Day Campaign is easy: 

  1. Download one of the templates from our website
  2. Decorate the hands – here are a few ideas:
  3. KS1: Paint inside the hands – or students can even make their own hand print if you’re eager to get messy with hand paints!
  4. KS1/2:  Write a message for children around the world who are affected by conflict
  5. Simply sign their names (best to be done on the actual ‘Red Hand’)
  6. Send finished materials in one of two ways:
  7. Post them to our office (28 Grayston Centre, Charles Square, London N1 6HT, United Kingdom) 
  8. Scan them in and email to us to print out ([email protected])

Every quarter we will select a school who sent in red hands and feature a selection of their entries on our website, social media and newsletter, so that all our supporters can see the action you’re taking – you will be notified if your hand is the winning design, so please make sure that you include contact information.

We hope that your school will choose to stand alongside us as we work to end the use of child soldiers! 

The use of child soldiers is an important issue that doesn’t get enough attention within schools. As someone who just left school, I feel strongly that students should learn about key world issues, so they know how to help and raise awareness. I firmly believe all children should have the same rights and opportunities, and should live free from military use.

Laura Foster, Marketing and Fundraising Volunteer at Child Soldiers International