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. Learn more below about how you can add the voices of the children in your school to the cause. We hope that your school or youth group will choose to participate!

About 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 forced to take part in wars and conflicts, forced to kill, and commit other acts of violence. Some join ‘voluntarily’, driven by poverty, sense of duty, or circumstance. Children are also used as cooks, porters, messengers, informants or spies.

The law is meant to protect children from this abuse. There is even an international treaty devoted to ending the use of child soldiers. But not all countries in the world have signed on to it – and even those that have don’t always follow its rules. In February 2018, it will have been 18 years since this treaty was adopted. We are going to be marking this 18th anniversary with a big event in New York. In the lead-up to this event, we are asking for students all around the world to show that they stand with us in saying ‘children should be children, not soldiers’.

Red Hand Day Campaign

This is where your school comes in. We would love it if your students participated in our ‘Red Hand Day Campaign’. What is Red Hand Day you ask? It’s also known as the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers and it is an annual commemoration day for child soldiers. It falls on the 12th of February each year, when pleas are made to world leaders to better protect children from being recruited by fighting forces.

How to participate

Participating in our global Red Hand Day Campaign is easy:

  1. Download our hand templates here
  2. Decorate the hands – here are a few ideas:
    1. Younger students: Paint inside the hands – or students can even make their own hand print if you’re eager to get messy with hand paints!
    2. Older students: Write a message for children around the world who are affected by conflict
    3. Simply sign their names (best to be done on the actual ‘Red Hand’)
  3. Send finished materials by 1 February 2018 in one of two ways:
    1. Post them to our office (Child Soldiers International, The Grayston Centre, 28 Charles Square, London N1 6HT, United Kingdom)
    2. Scan them in and email to us to print out ([email protected])

Teaching resources

If you’d like to explore the issue in a little more depth with your students, we have prepared lesson plans tailored to different ages, available for download via the Information for Schools page on our website.

What will we do with your submissions?

Child Soldiers International will bring these hands to our February 2018 event at the United Nations in New York to showcase to world leaders that children all over the world demand better action from them to protect children from recruitment. We will choose two ‘Red Hands’ to blow up into poster size to display more prominently. For those that submit in this school term, we will choose one design and notify you by 1 June 2017 if you have won. For those that submit in the following term, we will choose one more design and notify you by 1 February 2018. Please make sure that you include contact information! Between now and February 2018, we will also display a selection of the Red Hands we receive on this page.

We hope that your school will choose to stand alongside us as we work to end the use of child soldiers! If you have any questions, email us at [email protected]