Medact’s report on the long-term impacts of the British military’s recruitment of children under the age of 18, presents evidence linking ‘serious health concerns’ with the policy, and calls for a rise in the minimum recruitment age.
The report’s findings include:
- Child recruits are more vulnerable to PTSD, alcohol abuse, self-harm, suicide, death and injury during an armed forces career when compared to adult recruits.
- Military recruitment marketing takes advantage of adolescent cognitive and psychosocial vulnerabilities.
- The current practices for recruiting children in to the British armed forces do not meet the criteria for full and informed consent.
- Those recruited as children, upon turning 18, are more likely than adult recruits to end up in frontline combat roles which carry greater risks than other roles.
The UK is one only a handful of countries worldwide to still allow recruitment from age 16, a policy which has been strongly criticised by multiple UN and UK parliamentary bodies, child rights organisations and human rights groups.