Kids with guns: Should the armed forces encourage young people to interact with weapons and military vehicles?
Strategies & resources
Based on the experiences and knowledge of local groups working on this issue as well as our own, we have put together a list of resources and strategies that may be useful for people concerned about ‘kids with guns.’
- Several groups have organised vigils for peace to coincide with public military events. Others have organised film showings, for example showing the film War School, as a gentle way of inviting people to engage with the issue.
- Many groups have begun long-term dialogue with stakeholders, from their council to those who own or are responsible for various event spaces, to their local armed forces base commander. If you would like support with this, please contact us.
- If you want to find out when the military will be holding public events in your local town centre, you can use a Freedom of Information request. Here is an example from campaigners in Leicester.
- One powerful way of furthering critical debate is to use local and international press to raise concerns. See this letter, entitled War marketed as family entertainment, in the Independent.
- Are there other local groups you can connect with? Many organisations have local groups or members around the country who may be interested in helping organize, taking part in events or spreading the word.
- Over 80 local authorities in the UK are part of the global Mayors for Peace network which works for a nuclear-free world. The UK also has its own network of nuclear-free local authorities. Some local authorities have other peace-related initiatives, such as Manchester’s peace plans for schools. Where a council has made some kind of statement about peace, it is possible to make the link with concerns that weapons and military hardware are not displayed in order to attract children and young people. Both issues are part of the slow process of building a culture of peace.
- You could take the example of the Leicester group detailed here, and initiate a ‘charter’ on the reduction of the militarisation of children and young people. This charter enabled them to get an audience with the Mayor, and provided a focus for continuing conversation and advocacy – as a living document, it is reviewed and revised every year.
- Before You Sign Up: Focusing on the British Army, this site provides clear information for young people who are thinking of joining and for their parents. It is also for soldiers who are thinking of leaving the army. It was built by author and researched David Gee because army recruiters of course tend to present an imbalanced perspective on army life. Some groups protesting about ‘kids with guns’ have given away Before You Sign Up cards that link to the website and include some key facts. Contact ForcesWatch if you would like some of these cards.
- Show War School – a new feature length documentary about how the military is promoted to young people in the UK – see other resources.
- The War is Not Family Entertainment banner has been circulating around peace groups around the UK. Would you like to use it? Put the word out by tagging the peace and anti-militarist organizations and networks below on Twitter, or contacting by email. Or you could make your own!
Contact us! We are happy to help with information and ideas for how to work on this issue. Keep us informed about what you are doing.
Other groups can also provide support, such as:
- Veterans for Peace UK is a voluntary and politically independent ex-services organisation of men and women who have served in conflicts from WW2 through to Afghanistan. They firmly believe that “war is not the solution to the problems we face in the 21st century.” Local peace campaigners and groups could contact them to find out if they are organising activities in their local area. They could also invite local VfP members to join them in protests against ‘kids with guns’ at public military events.
- The Peace Pledge Union is a pacifist organisation with members all around the UK. Contact them to find out if there are members near you who may wish to help you organise on this issue.
- The Movement for the Abolition of War is a volunteer-run a civil society movement which challenges popular thinking about the acceptability of war, and raises awareness of constructive alternatives. Contact them to find out of there are members in your area you can connect with.
- Quakers are a faith group committed to working for equality and peace. Get in touch with Quakers in Britain or your local Quaker meeting to find out how you could be supported in challenging militarisation.