Raise your concerns with your MP

19 March 2017

 

Contact information for your MP

You can find contact information for your MP, and email them, on this page

Ask your MP to support the campaign to raise the age of recruitment

The UK is the only country in Europe that still recruits 16 year olds into the armed forces. In fact, young people can start the process when they are just 15. This is out of step with the growing international concensus towards recruiting only adults.

Last year the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child repeated their call for the policy to be changed. All four of the UK's Children's Commissioners, and many others, support a change in policy and for children's rights to be put before defence interests. Over three‐quarters of the public are in support of raising the recruitment age to 18 but many parliamentarians are more concerned about recruitment targets and do not want to challenge the idea that the armed forces offer opportunities for young people who don't have many other options. Recent research by ForcesWatch, Child Soldiers International and Medact has found that far from being a guarantee of social mobility, joining the armed forces at a young age has many risks attached.

The Medact report supports the c

You could also send your MP/MSP this briefing for parliamentarians outlining the arguments in favour of raising the age of recruitment from Child Soldiers International.  

We know that political views on this are split strongly between those who recognise the child welfare issues at stake, and those concerned that reducing recruitment would mean reducing job opportunities. We would be really grateful for your help in lobbying your MP/MSP as it's important to show the breadth of support behind this initiative, especially given the army's increasing targeting of 16 year olds this year.


Ask your MP to read the Medact report

The Recruitment of Children by the UK Armed Forces: A Critique from Health Professionals

Medact is a public health charity.The report looks at the psychological and psychosocial vulnerabilities of adolescents in the context of military recruitment marketing strategies and making long-term risky decisions; and examines the evidence that under 18 recruits face greater risks to health than adult recruits, across the course of an armed forces career. In summary, the report calls for the recruitment age to be raised to 18.

The Medact report discusses the psychological and psychosocial reasons why children should not be encouraged to make a decision to join the armed forces:

'16 and 17 year olds (and to a lesser extent, many young adults as well) are still maturing emotionally and intellectually. This period of development is characterised by more impulsive and emotionally driven decision-making, which is only tempered by cognitive and rational decision-making processes later in the developmental trajectory.'  

The report finds that child recruits are more vulnerable to PTSD, alcohol abuse, self-harm, suicide, death and injury across the course of an armed forces career when compared to adult recruits. They are more likely than adults to end up in riskier frontline combat roles, due to the limited pathways open to the youngest recruits. The report further states that military recruitment marketing and practices take advantage of adolescent cognitive and psychosocial vulnerabilities.

The continued recruitment of children into the British armed forces is of great concern in the light of the evidence collected in the Medact report. The age of recruitment should be raised in line with recommendations from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, children's rights organisations in the UK and the UK's Children's Commissioners.


Send this parliamentary briefing to your MP

You could also send your MP/MSP this briefing for parliamentarians outlining the arguments in favour of raising the age of recruitment and see more information from Child Soldiers International.  

Also see: 

Is it counterproductive to enlist minors into the army? This RUSI Journal article explains how raising the UK enlistment age would bring benefits to both young people and the British armed forces.

Soldiers at 16: Shifting fact from fiction debunks the myths around continuing to recruit at 16 (available from ForcesWatch).


Watch 'Soldiers at 16: the other side of the story'

Ten 2‐minute films about one army recruit's experience have been released by Child Soldiers International. The films present Wayne Sharrock’s story, from his enlistment at 17, through basic training to Afghanistan, where he was injured and saw his comrades killed, and his struggle to adjust to civilian life. Wayne wants the films to show young people that the army is nothing like a recruiter’s brochure. Read more on Wayne's story here.


Ask your MP to sigh the Early Day Motion calling on the Government to review the recruitment age

Ask your MP to sign this Early Day Motion 694 on The Recruitment of Minors into the UK Armed Forces

That this House notes the contents of the Medact Report into the effects of the recruitment of minors by the UK armed forces, published in October 2016; further notes the report's findings that child recruits are more vulnerable to post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol abuse, self-harm, suicide, death and injury during an armed forces career when compared to either their demographically-matched civilian peers or adult recruits; notes that the report concludes that the current practices for recruiting minors into the UK armed forces do not meet the criteria for full and informed consent, in part due to the fact that adolescents' cognitive and psychosocial development make them unfairly susceptible to military recruitment marketing; notes that the report's conclusion states that those recruited as children, on turning 18, are more likely than adult recruits to end up in frontline combat roles which carry greater risks than other roles; recalls the repeated condemnation of UK armed forces' recruitment of minors by national child rights experts and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Deepcut Review's recommendation that the minimum enlistment age should be reviewed; notes the growing body of independent research evidencing significant detrimental outcomes for the youngest recruits; and calls on the Government to launch a review of the minimum armed forces enlistment age.

Sample text to send to your MP for Early Day Motion 694 on The Recruitment of Minors into the UK Armed Forces

I would like to draw your attention to the report published by the public health charity Medact in October, The Recruitment of Children by the UK Armed Forces: A Critique from Health Professionals

The report looks at the psychological and psychosocial vulnerabilities of adolescents in the context of military recruitment marketing strategies and making long-term risky decisions; and examines the evidence that under 18 recruits face greater risks to health than adult recruits, across the course of an armed forces career. 

The report finds that child recruits are more vulnerable to PTSD, alcohol abuse, self-harm, suicide, death and injury across the course of an armed forces career when compared to adult recruits. They are more likely than adults to end up in riskier frontline combat roles, due to the limited pathways open to the youngest recruits. The report further states that military recruitment marketing and practices take advantage of adolescent cognitive and psychosocial vulnerabilities.

The continued recruitment of children into the British armed forces is of great concern in the light of the evidence collected in the Medact report. The age of recruitment should be reviewed in line with recommendations from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, children's rights organisations in the UK and the UK's Children's Commissioners.

Please sign Early Day Motion 694 on The Recruitment of Minors into the UK Armed Forces requesting that the UK's recruitment age is reviewed.