Shelly is the Executive Director of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative. Dr. Whitman has an extensive career as an academic, teaching in International Development Studies and Political Science at Dalhousie University, Saint Mary’s University and the University of Botswana. Her research interests have been broadly focused on issues related to peace, development and human security.
From 2000-2002, Shelly worked as Head of Research on the inter-Congolese dialogue, under the direction of Former Botswana President, Sir Ketumile Masire. Previous to this post, she was a Research Consultant at UNICEF, NY and worked under the direction of Ambassador Stephen Lewis on the OAU Rwanda Genocide Report.
The costs of war are borne by all, from those on the front lines to the spouses, families and communities who serve on the home front. As such, it is critical that we focus not only on the short-term investment that a mission requires, but the life-cycle costs and resources requisite for any mission.
In our data driven world, numbers are key in terms of conveying the size of a problem or the intensity that we should pay attention to it. However, many of the world's most intractable problems continue to defy any systemic approaches to be easily counted. This is particularly accurate when assessing the effects of war on children.
Some 31,000 women are currently pregnant inside the Islamic State. These children born out of conflict will form the future ranks of the group. School curriculum is being altered and reshaped to support extremism and strict adherence to the Islamic State's view of religion and philosophy. Children are desensitized to violence and trained for combat from an early age. This presents a complex, yet vitally important, challenge for any nations engaged with the Islamic State.
This November we must also remember those child soldiers lost in battle. However, children rarely enter the conversation in this manner on Remembrance Day -- they are forgotten. The UN estimates that 250,000 children, boys and girls, are currently being used as child soldiers, we will never know how many of them have been killed or lost in battles.