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What happens to children who grow up in extreme political circumstances?

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Former child soldiers live right here in Australia, a world away from their childhood violence.

From the Chinese Revolution and The Troubles in Northern Ireland to conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa, children have been exposed to extreme situations that can have a lasting effect on their futures.

In this episode, Jenny Brockie speaks directly to people who chose or were forced to join extreme causes as children, in a variety of circumstances.

They bravely open up about what they went through, how they were trained, and how they deal with feelings of guilt and betrayal as adults.

Presenter: Jenny Brockie  
Senior Producer: Jodie Noyce
Associate Producer: Kym Middleton

Meet the Guests

  • Deng Adut

    When he was a very young child, Deng Adut was taken from his family and trained to be a soldier in the Sudan People's Liberation Army. He was often beaten and tortured for disobedience and had close friends who were killed. He also witnessed many killings by firing squad. At one point he tried to commit suicide. He is now a lawyer living in Sydney.

  • Frank Meeink

    Frank Meeink was indoctrinated into the neo-Nazi skinhead movement at the age of 14. He grew up in a violent home in the United States and was attracted to the movement because he liked being feared. He freely admits to violent behaviour and at the age of 17 he was charged with aggravated battery and unlawful restraint and ended up in prison. He gradually abandoned his beliefs.

  • May Hu

    May Hu is a Chinese Australian who was a child during China’s Cultural Revolution. Her father was put in prison because he was educated overseas. May was coerced by the Communist Red Guard to convince her father to dob in his associates. May says she still carries a lot of guilt for doing that.

  • James Connolly FitzSimons

    James Connolly FitzSimons was born into a staunchly Irish Republican family during The Troubles. He says he was named after a Republican leader who was shot in 1916 by a British firing squad for his role in the Easter Uprising. James says the name his parents gave him laid his path. He says one of his first memories as a small child was when his cousin was blown up by a car bomb. He later married an Australian woman and now lives in Sydney.


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