Video of Pakistani kids pretending to be suicide bombers is nothing to freak-out over.

The above video clip is popping up all over the Internet causing all sorts of horrified commentary like this:

This amateur video of Pashtun children enacting a suicide bombing has circulated on the internet in Pakistan in recent days, highlighting the disturbing psychological impact of Taliban violence on a generation.

The unsettling 84-second clip has divided opinions, with some amused by the smiling child actors and fake explosions; others appalled by evidence that suicide bombers have become playground heroes of sorts.

“It’s horrifying and alarming. These children have become fascinated by bombers rather than condemning them,” said Salma Jafar of Save the Children UK in Pakistan.

“If they glamorise violence now, they can become part of it later in life.”

via War games: conflict becomes child’s play for young Pashtuns | World news | The Guardian.

I’m not convinced this should be all that surprising or upsetting. I can remember pretending to be all sorts of things as a child, some of which would could be considered disturbing. Cops and Robbers requires someone to be the robbers and it’s just not a chase unless you’re shooting guns at each other or attempting to run each other over. Cowboys and Indians isn’t as much fun unless you collect a few scalps along the way. Can’t fight WWII without someone playing the part of the Nazis. Oh, and whoever got to be the Evil Aliens got to make people’s heads explode (that was my favorite).

Despite all of that glorification of violence, I somehow managed to grow up and not be a head scalpin’ evil Nazi alien bank robber who caused people’s heads to explode while trying to shoot them in a car chase. But, I hear you say, this is different! This is something that really happens! Yeah, so did scalpings, and Nazis, and bank robbers. Though that’s true enough about the aliens… as far as we know.

My point is that a lot of child play contains sinister undertones and has throughout history. Hell, there are a number of classic games kids play to this day that have histories most folks would find unsettling if they knew about them. Most folks will instantly think of Ring Around the Rosies as an example as it’s common knowledge that it’s about the Black Plague. Reality is that it’s not about the Plague, but a lot of people think it is. But what I’m saying is that most of us manage to grow up relatively unmarred from pretending to be the bad guys.

There’s also the fact that this video is obviously being filmed by an adult. That calls into question whether or not the children are pretending to be suicide bombers out of admiration or just because an adult was instructing them to do so. Given how much attention is being aimed at the camera man I’m less inclined to think this was a spontaneous moment caught on film than I am that the whole thing was staged by adults probably to freak people out. Though if the kids are being indoctrinated then that would be something to be worried about. If it’s just something they decided to do on their own then it’s probably harmless.