Butler Journal of Undergraduate Research

Faculty Sponsor

Katherine Novak


People in the United States are becoming increasingly mindful of child soldiers, with film being a critical means of bringing about awareness. However, awareness can be dependent upon media representation since most individuals in the U.S. do not have direct experiences with child soldiers. The purpose of the present study is to discover how the media has portrayed child soldiers in Hollywood films and documentaries, with an emphasis on the portrayal of violence, the role of women, and the reintegration experiences of child soldiers that are shown. Through a combined qualitative and quantitative content analysis, this study explores the depictions of young children in armed forces as a way to better understand society’s perception of child soldiers. Five Hollywood films and five documentaries were selected at random from an initial pool and viewed by two coders. The coders discovered that while women were portrayed more often than expected, the unique challenges faced by female child soldiers were not represented with great accuracy. Reintegration was depicted in most films; documentaries were more likely to focus on long-term reintegration and Hollywood films were more likely to focus on short-term reintegration. Hollywood films were also more likely than documentaries to portray violent action and show changes in the attitudes and emotions among the child soldiers over time.

Tassava Tables.pdf (55 kB)

Tassava paper letter.docx (69 kB)
Letter to editor

Jessica Tassava Biography.docx (31 kB)