The global number of child soldiers has grown significantly in the last two decades despite a series of protocols designed to curb this trend. They are generally employed in wars where belligerents spend more time attacking civilian populations than fighting professional armies. Used by both governments and rebel groups, child soldiers epitomize many of the problems associated with states at risk: intergenerational violence, poverty, and the failure of efforts to instill the rule of war. Both scholars in security studies and policymakers have largely regarded child soldier recruitment as a humanitarian issue. But recent events have linked child soldiering to insurgency and terrorism, suggesting that this issue is also developing a security dimension. This article examines contrasting arguments about the causes of child soldiering. Using data drawn from nineteen African conflicts, the authors argue that the major explanation for the significant variation in the percentage of child soldiers recruited is the degree of protection against abduction provided by governments and external actors to camps housing internally displaced persons and refugees.