A series of photographs that have reportedly come out of Iran show boys aged 12 to 16 in Iranian IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) uniforms.
The officers reportedly told the students that they would receive urban warfare training and be paid for their work after the current unrest ended. The students were also reportedly promised that their compulsory military service would be cut by six months as part of their reward.
The recent publication of photographs of underage children in riot police uniforms carrying compliance tools has raised eyebrows and sparked public outrage.
However, a closer examination of the photographs shows that the small shields and batons are more like toys than standard-issue riot police gear.
Children must be protected against possible violence in street protests and not exposed to any danger.
Recent attempts to put underage children in riot police uniforms and gear could be seen as an attempt to compensate for the small number of diehard forces loyal to the regime.
The regime is not worried that these children might join protesters. It only wants to increase the number of its forces in the streets because protesters cannot tell the age of these children from a distance.
The state has also used black motorcycles, water cannons, and other tools to scare off protesters. Seeing two water cannons, 20 motorcycles, 20 shields, 20 riot police, and dozens of children in riot gear positioned at an intersection could be extremely intimidating, even though there are only 20 riot police against 1,000 protesters.