Children are deemed crucial in the art of war. Not only are they of almost unlimited supply in conflict, but groups like the so-called Islamic State use children to secure and train the future generation of fighters and followers.
In the most recent example of children being used to carry out attacks, a child aged between 12 and 14 years old detonated his suicide vest at a wedding, killing at least 51 people. Although ISIS has not claimed responsibility, the use of children is in line with the group's tactics.
Groups like ISIS are robbing children of their childhood.
ISIS recruits children of a young age, indoctrinating them to its violent practices, and exposing them to venomous ideology. In areas under ISIS control, children are enrolled in schools and training camps and are instructed how to fight, kill and attack. Their education and their futures have been cast aside, only to be replaced with destruction.
The use of children is not restricted to ISIS. Abu Sayyaf, an Islamist group in the Philippines, has reportedly used armed children to guard prisoners, and the Taliban have added scores of children to their ranks since mid-2015, training and deploying them to carry out various military tasks. Perhaps more shockingly, a recent UN report stated that nearly one in five suicide bombers used by Boko Haram is a child.
In the case of ISIS, children are used for psychological value, arousing fear that the group is a fully functioning state, fueling a multi-generational war. Children bring with them media attention, providing groups with an increased platform to share their ideology.
Their use also secures the recruitment of further children as on-lookers watch others have a seemingly key role.
Thousands of children have been abducted by ISIS.
Extremist groups go to great lengths to recruit children to their cause, drawing and coercing them in various ways. A recent report by International Alert found the main reasons that young Syrians are joining extremist groups include the need for an income, regaining a sense of control over their lives, the desire to avenge previous attacks as well as a sense of moral or religious duty.
Children are also forced to join groups against their will, as seen in a recent UNICEF report that stated thousands of children have been abducted by ISIS.
In the recent attack in Turkey, 22 of the 51 casualties were reportedly under 14 years old, demonstrating that children globally are victim to the effects of extremist ideology, whether through direct exposure and indoctrination, or the knock on from it.
Groups like ISIS are destroying the past, present, and future in one as the young generation is robbed of childhood, plunged headlong into a world of terror.