Suicide attacks are happening consistently in recent years, and investigations have shown a horrifying new trend: many of the bombers are children.

It used to be a generally accepted principle that women and children were off limits when it comes to war. But times are changing, and militant groups cannot be held accountable because they are not backed by a specific state. In the past, if a country was using child soldiers, the UN could adopt sanctions against that country. But ISIS and Boko Haram are not supported by countries, in fact, they are basically terrorizing the countries that they are based in.

And with less accountability, a new trend has emerged, and that is the radicalization of children for the cause, as well as abducting children to use for suicide bombing purposes.

Why are children volunteering to be suicide bombers?

There are a few reasons: radical belief, the impressionability of children, and that it is the most likely option to escape.

  • Boko Haram and ISIS have been abducting children for years. Last year, Boko Haram sent 44 child suicide bombers to Nigeria and Cameroon. Why would an abducted child want to be a suicide bomber? According to some refugees, it was the best way to escape. When asked who wanted to be a suicide bomber, girls would volunteer, because they could try to find a soldier and maybe get the bomb defused and they would be free from the horrors of captivity.
  • Another way they convince children to become suicide bombers is far more sinister. Sometimes, according to UNICEF spokesperson Laurent Duvillier, the children don’t even know that they are carrying bombs, as the devices are usually detonated remotely.
  • In Afghanistan, Vice News did an investigation, and found that some of the child suicide bombers were outright lied to. The adults in the community told the children that the bombs only explode outwards, so they will not get hurt.


How do these organizations radicalize kids?

Kids are just that, kids. they are easily impressionable and follow the lead of the adults in their community. It really comes down to the parents in the community to allow children to develop this way. ISIS is quite adept at this. They routinely take young children and “educate” them. The Yazidis are a monotheistic group from the Kurdish region of Iraq, who have been the target of ruthless attacks from ISIS since 2014. Hundreds of the children are taken by the ISIS militants and sent to Raqqa, where they are given traditional Arabic names, and train 10 hours per day reading from the Quran and learning to fight. These training camps take children of all ages, from all over the region, giving them weapons, and preparing the next generation to fight.


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Apart from abducting the children, the influx of “jihadi brides” means that a new generation of ISIS fighters are being bred. From birth these children are taught the radical ways of ISIS and they grow up in it. To them, ISIS will be all that they know. Searching the Internet, there are many horrifying ISIS videos, but none so horrible as the one here. A young child is given a knife and beheads his teddy bear. The smile on his face as he seeks approval from his father is all that needs to be seen to realize the power of the local community in a person’s upbringing.


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