Red Hand Day brings attention to child soldiers


Ayathi Gogineni

Red hands hanging outside of Kline’s English class.

Ayathi Gogineni, Editor-in-Chief

Last week, English teacher Gail Kline’s students recognized Red Hand Day or the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, a day observed each year on Feb. 12.

Every year since 2002, Red Hand Day is observed to raise awareness about the increasing number of children, currently at above 250,000 children, inducted into the military or other revolutionary rebellion armies. According to the RedHandDay official website, on this day, around the world, numerous pleas are made to policymakers and political officials to draw attention to the particular cause of stopping the use of soldiers who are below the age of 18. Additionally, in 2008, former child soldiers collected red hand-prints of individuals and placed them on large pieces of paper/banners to commemorate the cause.

In Kline’s Advanced Placement Language and Composition classes, students dipped their hands in red paint and marked their support for the movement by placing their handprints on a banner outside Room 423. The banner also consisted of messages around the handprints encouraging general global positivity and awareness to the negative effects of child slavery as soldiers.

Kline’s AP Lang classes previously read a book this year called A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah as a class assignment. This novel narrates the riveting story of a boy who became a boy soldier during the Civil War from 1991-2002 in Sierra Leone, West Africa. 

In the novel, as the boy struggles to survive, he witnesses the deaths of many Sierra Leone natives around him as a result of fighting between the Revolutionary United Front (the group trying to overthrow the government in Sierra Leone) and the Sierra Leone Army, and must partake in causing several of those deaths with his own hands as a recruited soldier.

The inspiring story of the boy and everything he had to go through, from being injected with drugs to walking days on end without food to survive, initiated the acknowledgment of Red Hand Day on the hill. 

In the future, hopefully, Red Hand Day will become a school-wide honored day when the story of Ishmael Beah and child soldiers throughout the world will be recognized. Until then, please take the time to view the banner outside of Room 423 and encourage the growth of recognizing this impactful day for years to come.