The United Nations define a child soldier as:
"[…] any child – boy or girl – under 18 years of age, who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group in any capacity, including, but not limited to: cooks, porters, messengers, and anyone accompanying such groups other than family members. It includes girls and boys recruited for sexual purposes and/or forced marriage. The definition, therefore, does not only refer to a child who is carrying, or has carried weapons"
(Cape Town Principals, 1997).
The main reason for using children as soldiers is their impressionability, obedience, and susceptibility to violent behavior. They have often lost both parents, and as a result have nobody to turn to after demobilization. This results in severe difficulties trying to lead a normal life in a post-conflict society. However, the term child soldier should not be used to generalize this group. Despite their shared experiences, they are as diverse and individualistic as the rest of society.
Read more about child soldiers in the 2008 Child soldier report, or experience their everyday life.