With the publication of the Scottish Parliament's Public Petitions Committee report on our petition on armed forces visits to schools, there has been substantial coverage in the news (see our round-up). The Ministry of Defence have said a number of things in response that are very disputable – this blog outlines some of the evidence.
Former education minister Robert Goodwill has been tasked with drawing up a report for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on the benefits of ‘military ethos’ in schools. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has suggested this could include ‘military academies’ in disadvantaged areas.
We consider the ethics of imposing an ethos from outside of education, especially when it serves interests at odds with the best interests of young people.
Members of the Scottish Parliament have agreed to produce a report into military visits in Scotland’s schools in a response to our petition on the issue.
Three cases involving over 40 claimants and 16 Army instructors have collapsed, raising a number of serious concerns about failings within the military justice system. As a result, serious allegations of abuse against very young recruits have not been tested. We call for changes to the system and question whether a military environment where aggression is fostered will ever be condusive to the wellbeing of young recruits.
Today is the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers. Today also sees the start of a court martial of 16 instructors at Army Foundation College Harrogate which trains young recruits aged under 18. They are charged with numerous counts of bullying and abuse.
We report on a recent meeting in Parliament with a range of speakers on the urgent need to raise the age of recruitment to the armed forces in the UK.
ForcesWatch comment on the 2018 British Army recruitment advertising campaign
ForcesWatch comment on the 2018 British Army recruitment advertising campaign: We welcome any commitments and improvements the military makes to the welfare of soldiers but caution that the reality of military life is not accurately represented in this new campaign, and that the welfare of recruits into the Army should not be overlooked.
A shorter version of this article is published by The Huffington Post
After hearing from the armed forces, the Scottish Parliament's Public Petitions Committee has decided they need to hear more from ForcesWatch and Quakers in Scotland before making decisions about our petition calling for greater guidance and scrutiny around military visits to schools.
Every year, the fury levied at those who critique or refuse the red poppy obscures the complexity and spectrum of views such dissenters open up. What is lost in this explosion of vitriol and misunderstanding is the opportunity to allow us, as empathic human beings, to be open to divergent viewpoints, to think honestly about wars and to discuss their causes.