Why Children Are Targets for Terror

The Art of War is a classic book on military strategy from China’s Warring States period. The advice in the book has been used by generals, business leaders and martial artists for several centuries. Characters in my stories quote it often when trying to make a point or explain an idea. Sadly, terrorists, mass killers and psychopaths have learned its lessons too.

Sun Tzu teaches his students to “defend from a place of strength and attack the enemy at his weakest point”. Children are the most defenseless and weakest members of any society and attacks on schools have captured headlines for years. Al Jazeera has collected a list of the most infamous attacks worldwide from Columbine to Beslan by attackers from Boko Haram to the Taliban. The pain and dismay these attacks cause never goes away. That’s why Sun Tzu advocated the tactic and asymmetrical warfare uses schools as slaughter houses.

If this list of attacks teaches us anything, it is the ugly brutality of war, the dehumanization one group can place on another and the vulnerability of those who mean the most to us. No parent expects their child’s school to become a war zone. But the weak have always been targets of the ruthless. Race, nationality and social class provide no guarantees of safety. Every child in the world who comes home safe tonight is a gift for their parents and the people who love them.