Resources to use with political representatives
Contact your MP, other political representative or local union or political branch about the involvement of military interests (armed forces or arms companies) in education and/or raising the age of military recruitment.
- A letter/email doesn’t need to be long. Use some of the key facts below. You can also attach one of the briefings for further information.
- Be personal – express why you care about the issue as one of their constituents. Is it your concern for human rights, for the welfare of young people, for the role of the military in schools to be restricted?
- If you have an experience that connects you to the issue – even if just a recruitment advert you saw, a news story you read – then share it.
- Include your postcode to show you are a constituent, and a return address if writing.
You can find contact information for your local and national representatives, and email them, here.
Military interests in education
If you want to raise your concerns about the military or arms companies involvement in education you can:
- Send this briefing on Military involvement in education and youth activities in the UK.
- In the year 2017-18 the armed forces made 10,260 visits to schools and colleges across the UK.
- There are some areas where almost every school is visited, often a number of times each year, with visits mainly in secondary schools, but also primary and special schools.
- The armed forces and also the defence industry, including global arms companies, provide extensive curriculum resources and sponsorship within education, particularly around STEM.
- A number of schools and colleges are now sponsored or partnered by the armed forces and/or the defence industry.
- Since 2012, ‘military ethos’ has been promoted in schools, particularly in socio-economically disadvantaged areas, initiated and supported by the Department for Education and the Ministry for Defence. The Cadet Expansion Programme and 'alternative provision with a military ethos' have developed significantly as a result.
- This model motion on military and defence industry influence in education can to used to debate the issue with you trade union or political branch, council etc.
- Our leaflet Should the military be promoted in schools can be printed off and given out or contact us for more copies.
Military recruitment age
If you want to raise your concerns about the age of military recruitment, you can:
- Send this briefing for parliamentarians from Child Soldiers International on Why raising the recruitment age would benefit everyone.
- Ask them to support a change to the recruitment age in law in the government (or their party if they are opposition).
- The UK recruits around 2,300 minors a year, and the majority join the army. Under-18s make up around 25% of the army’s new recruits each year.
- Young people can start the application process when they are 15, and enlist from the day they turn 16.
- The UK is the only country in Europe and the only country in NATO to recruit 16-year-olds.
- Three quarters of states globally now only recruit adults (aged 18 and above) into their armed forces – this is emerging as an international norm.
- The Children’s Commissioners for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, and major children’s organisations have criticised the UK’s recruitment of under-18s.
- The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended in 2016 (among other things) that the UK “Reconsider its active policy of recruitment of children into the armed forces and ensure that recruitment practices do not actively target persons under the age of 18”.
- Three quarters of the public are in support of raising the recruitment age to 18.
- Recruitment campaigns have specified young people in the poorest social classes, in families earning only £10,000 a year, as the target audience.
- Under-18s can’t be sent to fight in wars, but they sign away fundamental rights on enlisting and go through an intensive military training process.
- Evidence shows that younger recruits are more likely to suffer mental health problems than those who sign up as adults.
- The policy isn’t effective for the army either…It is nearly twice as expensive to put minors through military training than adults, and about 1 in 3 under-18 recruits drop out before completing their training.
Selling the Military: A critical analysis of contemporary recruitment marketing in the UK
This report, published by ForcesWatch and the public health charity Medact, analyses the way the armed forces market their careers to adolescents and young people, creating powerful messages that which exploit developmental vulnerabilities and social inequality, risking the health and well-being of recruits. Also see the article Adverse health effects of recruiting child soldiers' published in BMJ Peadeatrics Open, Feb 2019
The Recruitment of Children by the UK Armed Forces: a Critique from Health Professionals
This report from the public health charity Medact 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. This report was the basis for this Early Day Motion.
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.
‘Conscription by poverty? Deprivation and army recruitment in the UK’
This report by the Child Rights International Network shows that teenagers from the poorest areas are targeted for the roles carrying the greatest risks in war, despite evidence that enlistment at a young age is detrimental to mental health and social mobility.