Chapter 4: Child Terrorists

“Then it seemed that armed children were a much more dangerous breed than armed adults.” In chapter four the reader sees more of an insight on the hostages’ thoughts of the children terrorists. We see a form of love from Ruben for he sees his own children in the eyes of one terrorists, and we see the hate and fear formed from Gen in the previous chapter as he thinks observes one of the child. This chapter we also were able to see a glimpse into their life, how some enjoy having the power and authority of holding a gun and controlling men much older than them. But we also see that inner desire in them for normalcy; to act as a child, to play as a child, and to just be a child. “They bounced on the beds and tried on the clothes in the dressers. They flushed the toilets again and again for the pleasure of watching the water swirl away.” This quote makes me question the intentions of the child terrorists and whether or not they are there for the right reasons. Are they there for a passion for change and revolution, or because they are young and gullible and are just doing as they are told? If the latter is why they are there then I can see this will quickly become an issue for the adult terrorists and generals. We already see they are falling out of order by going against the rules and talking to the hostages and playing games such as the globe games of where everyone is from. If they wanted to be taken seriously and to have others fear them, then they would not be so humbled and, well, childish.

I also found it interesting when they were called a “dangerous breed” due to their teenage hormones. “They were moody, irrational, anxious for confrontation.” This made me curious what could possibly be an advantage for having a child as a terrorist when they are just simply to mature enough to handle the position. I then found some interesting facts by an organization called “Do Something” that stated “The recruitment of child soldiers breaks several human rights laws. Children who have committed crimes as soldiers are looked upon more leniently, crimes committed voluntarily are subject to justice under the international juvenile justice standards.” Since the terrorists are in actuality just citizens making a change, I do not believe they are using these children as bomb shields so the government does not try to shoot them. I think they are partially using them for what Do Something stated. The “terrorists”, or as I call them, “revolutionists”, wants what is best for their people. A child is not going to be persecuted as horribly, if at all, compared to a grown adult. Maybe this is a possible factor as to why they used so many children? They needed to look like they were a big army as to intimidate the people at the party, but why use grown adult men who could possibly spend the rest of their lives in jail if caught?

I was also curious about why these young teenagers and children would have an interest in such an intimidating and bold scheme as to kidnap the president of a country. I do not believe these boys were forced since these “terrorists”, in my opinion, seem reasonable. They are clearly there for the good of their people so forcing a child to put his life on the line does not seem to match up with their intentions or morals. So then what would encourage a child to take such daring actions as to become not only a soldier, but a terrorist or kidnapper? I found that many children who are from poor communities feel as though they are disabled from moving up due to their socioeconomic position and lack of education. It is clear these boy probably wanted to make a change for their families and give themselves the opportunity for a hopeful future since the government was not. (“11 Facts About Child Soldiers.”)

I also found that “children who are not forced to be soldiers volunteer themselves because they feel societal pressure and are under the impression that volunteering will provide a form of income, food, or security, and willingly join the group” (“11 Facts About Child Soldiers.”). This fits the situation of the “revolutionists” perfectly. Everything they are doing, and everything they stand for, is change and for a revolution for a better life. Not only do the adult “terrorists” want to provide food and security for their wives and children, but the children want to provide food and security for themselves and their parents and siblings. I believe what they want is change, and the only way the children feel as though they can obtain that is by following their adult counterparts.

“Children are uniquely vulnerable to military recruitment because of their emotional and physical immaturity. They are easily manipulated and can be drawn into violence that they are too young to resist or understand” (“Facts About Child Soldiers.”). I believe this truly ties in to where the child terrorists in Bel Canto stand. They are described as has shoving around the adults and treating them more harshly than the adult terrorists. They are clearly not mature enough to handle the responsibilities that come along with weaponry and power.

Works Cited

“11 Facts About Child Soldiers.” 11 Facts About Child Soldiers. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2015.

“Facts About Child Soldiers.” Human Rights Watch. N.p., 03 Dec. 2008. Web. 23 Sept. 2015.


One thought on “Chapter 4: Child Terrorists

  1. slaudeman says:

    I found it very interesting that you mentioned the international stance on child soldiers and the balance of laws against them (and in favor of them). It could be interesting to do deeper research on those laws and the ways that different countries handle such situations. Additionally, you could compare the ways in which the children would be punished with the manner in which adults would be punished for the same or similar situations. The moral and ethical gray areas surrounding war situations including children are something that could be very interesting to pull apart and analyze. I think that you could probably find a plethora of information about child soldiers in history, as well. You could even compare the two time periods – how were child soldiers used differently in the past versus today? Are there more or less?
    To respond to the book, I find it quite interesting that the Generals so often refer to their friends and family, in some cases, who are being held in prison. It could be that they ARE particularly sensitive to the fact that these children, if caught, could be punished less forcefully. And quite honestly? I feel that the hostages themselves could be shifting towards sympathy for the children, perhaps even to the point that they themselves would defend the young revolutionaries. I am curious to see what happens when and if the situation resolves itself, in particular I want to see how the respective members of the group will feel towards the children.

    -Sara Laudeman


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