Kony video activates U.S. children

Some as young as 10 concerned for victims

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The voices demanding that Congress stop the brutality of African warlord Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army belong to America’s children.

Just ask their parents.

“All three of my kids, in different contexts and different times, said, ‘So what are you doing about Joseph Kony and the LRA?’ ” Sen. Christopher A. Coons, Delaware Democrat, said in a recent interview. Mr. Coons, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations African affairs subcommittee, is father to twins Michael and Jack, 12, and Maggie, 11.

“Mom, you have to watch this video,” Mary Shannon, the 14-year-old daughter of Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, Louisiana Democrat, insisted during a break from school. “It’s about Joseph Kony.”

Mr. Coons and Ms. Landrieu know all too well about Kony. The two senators have traveled to Africa and have heard firsthand about the killings and child abductions of tens of thousands in Central Africa, the young boys forced to fight as soldiers, the girls turned into sex slaves.

Today, the lawmakers’ children and millions of others in the United States and around the world are almost as well-versed about Kony’s 26-year reign of terror. A 30-minute video by the advocacy group Invisible Children to raise public awareness about the guerrilla group exploded on the Internet after its early March release. The “Kony 2012” video has been viewed by about 100 million people on YouTube and shared on Facebook and Twitter.

“There’s 100 million people who know the name of a war criminal now that didn’t necessarily before, and that’s a good thing,” said actor and activist George Clooney, who is part of a video on the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, in a recent interview.

The confluence of a compelling film focused on the fate of children, the power of social media to spread information instantaneously and an unprecedented global connection has turned Kony into a household name. High school and middle school students — some as young as 10, the same age as some of the LRA’s victims — are outraged that children are suffering.

One group of students experienced a unique civics lesson.

Last week, Sen. Johnny Isakson, Georgia Republican, conducted a Skype interview with a 6th-grade social studies class from Westside Middle School in Winder, Ga. The first question Mr. Isakson got from the 30 students was, “Are you doing anything about Joseph Kony?”

“It’s a tragedy,” said Mr. Isakson, the top Republican on the African affairs subcommittee, of the atrocities. He told the students that President Obama dispatched 100 U.S. troops — mostly Army Special Forces — to central Africa in October to advise regional forces in their hunt for Kony, a military move that received strong bipartisan support.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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