resources: research and reports

December 2014

UPDATEsee our new briefing on armed forces visits to schools in Scotland, 2016-17 (Nov 2017)

The report, compiled by ForcesWatch, is based on figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from the armed forces on their visits to Scottish schools. It has been co-sponsored by the Educational Institute of Scotland which has expressed concerns that some armed forces visits may have a recruitment purpose.

The report discusses the aims of the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces’ ‘youth engagement’ programme and concludes that: “Despite assurances by the Ministry of Defence and the three armed services that the armed forces do not recruit in schools, it is evident that many of the activities provided by members of the armed forces in schools are recruitment-related and the recruitment potential of visits is a key purpose of many, if not most, of their visits to schools.” 

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November 2014

by David Aldridge, Principal Lecturer, Philosophy of Education, Oxford Brookes University

Abstract

Each year a national day of commemoration of the war dead is celebrated on 11th November in the United Kingdom. Despite public controversy about the nature and purpose of remembrance, there has been no significant discussion of the role schools should play in this event. In this centenary year of the outbreak of the First World War, with the government planning to send groups from every secondary school in Britain to tour the battlefields of the western front over the next four years, the question of how war should be remembered in schools is more pressing than ever.

In this bold and rigorous pamphlet, David Aldridge takes a hard look at the reasons usually advanced for involving children and young people in commemorating the war dead, and finds many of them wanting. He critically examines the high profile in schools of charities, like the Royal British Legion, with vested interests in certain kinds of commemoration. And he argues forcefully for a justification of remembrance in schools that requires a major rethink of established rituals and practices.

This is a compelling treatment of a topic high on the agenda of teachers and education policy-makers and will be an invaluable resource for anyone involved in planning centenary commemorative events for children and young people.

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October 2014

A nationwide poll conducted in July 2014 by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd found that 78 per cent of respondents who expressed a view thought the minimum enlistment age for the Army should be 18 or above. Just 14 per cent of respondents thought the minimum age should be 16 (as it currently is) or less.

An identically worded poll conducted in April 2013 by ICM found 70 per cent of respondents who expressed a view thought the minimum enlistment age should be 18 or above, with 20 per cent supporting 16 or younger.

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September 2014

This paper, published by ForcesWatch and Child Soldiers International, shows that the taxpayer would save approximately £50 million per annum if the minimum age of recruitment were raised to 18; it would also result in the army needing to find about 211 fewer new recruits annually, based on current numbers joining the trained strength.

The paper concludes that the case to cease recruiting from age 16 is now overwhelming and urges a full, independent review of the policy, with a view to phasing out the recruitment of minors as an unnecessary, cost-ineffective, and fundamentally unethical practice.

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28 October 2013

This report from ForcesWatch, shows that young soldiers recruited from disadvantaged backgrounds are substantially more likely than other troops to return from war experiencing problems with their mental health. It calls for the policy of recruiting from age 16 to be reviewed so that the greatest burden of risk is not left to the youngest, most vulnerable recruits to shoulder.

Download the full report (PDF 1294kb)

Download the Executive Summary (PDF 268kb)

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August 2013

This paper, published by ForcesWatch and Child Soldiers International, indicates that the risk of fatality in Afghanistan for British Army recruits aged 16 and completed training has been twice as high as it has for those enlisting at 18 or above. This increased risk reflects the disproportionately high number of 16 year olds who join front-line Infantry roles. This is mainly the result of recruitment policies which drive the youngest recruits into the Army’s most dangerous roles.

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April 2013

This report published by Child Soldiers International and ForcesWatch outlines the numerous ethical and legal concerns related to rhe recruitment of under-18s, including the disproportionately high level of risk they face and long-term consequences for their employability, as well as detailing how much more it costs than recruiting only adults.

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15 March 2013

Men who have served in the UK Armed Forces are more likely to commit a violent offence during their lifetime than their civilian counterparts, according to new research by King's Centre for Military Health Research at King's College London.

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Research from Homeless Links's Survey of Needs and Provison suggests that while levels of homelessness among ex-service personnel is not high, it is widespread. Approximately half the day centres in England reported that they work with some ex-service personnel, however second stage accommodation reported much lower rates. This suggests that ex-service personnel do face a high risk of falling into patterns of rough sleeping, albeit for fairly short periods.

Research by the Centre for Housing Policy at York University in 2008 found that an estimated six per cent of London’s non-statutory homeless population had served in the Armed Forces. Although this represented a substantial drop from the proportion (approximately one quarter) reported in the mid-1990s, it showed that a higher proportion of ex-service personnel have alcohol, physical and/or mental health problems compared to the rest of the rough sleeping population.

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July 2012

Published by Child Soldiers International

The minimum recruitment age for the British armed forces – 16 years – is one of the lowest in the world. The Ministry of Defence has traditionally justified recruiting from this age group by asserting that 16 years reflects the minimum statutory school leaving age.

This report concludes that the impact of recruitment below the age of 18 opens up a number of gaps that have long term significance, not only for the armed forces but also for the young people that they recruit. At a time of considerable downsizing of the army in particular, the large gap between the cost of training minors (who cannot be deployed operationally) and adults (who can) is difficult to sustain. But perhaps the most significant cost is in the detrimental impact that the gaps identified have on the future prospects of minors recruited by our armed forces.

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May 2012

Contents

  • Countering the Militarisation of Youth introduction
  • Challenging the military's involvement in education in the United Kingdom
  • Universities, the Bundeswehr and “networked security”
  • How the U.S. collects data on potential recruits
  • Recruitment of and resistance by queers - example Sweden
  • Child Soldiers: Learning from Kony2012?
  • Countering the Militarisation of Youth
  • African Nonvio­lence Trainers Exchange
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November 2011

Published by the Quaker United Nations Office in November 2011, this short booklet reflects recent changes in international law and practice that indicates that recognition of conscientious objection to military service as a human right is now stronger than ever. The publication in available in English, French or Spanish.

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March 2011

This report, published by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "challenges the status quo currently surrounding the situation of young people in the UK armed forces today. It questions the ethics and legality of the restrictions on young recruits’ rights of discharge, their minimum period of service, and their exposure to the risk of hostilities. The report also makes the case for a considered review and debate on the minimum recruitment age. It highlights the evidence that not only is the experience of recruits in the 16 – 18 age bracket adversely affected by their relative lack of maturity, but that their high drop-out rate results in millions of pounds in wasted expenditure."

March 2011

Contents:

  • Israel: Schools as Recruiters
  • Venezuela — Revolution as Spectacle
  • Militarism All Over Schools in Turkey
  • Venezuela: Military in the classroom
  • Soldiers in the playground
  • Winning hearts and minds over to the army and defence industry
  • Publicity campaign in the classroom
  • Military in Schools in the United States
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2010

A forthcoming report on military recruitment to the UK armed forces reveals that cost of recruitment activity (up to when a recruit signs up) has increased from £66 million in 2001/02 to £95 million in 2007/08. For each recruit who goes on to complete training and join the deployable 'trained strength', the cost has risen from £6,812 in 2001/02 to £11,015 in 2007/08.

May 2010

A study published in May 2010 called What are the consequences of deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan on the mental health of the UK armed forces? found that armed forces personnel engaged in combat suffered PTSD at over twice the rate of the general population and that the symptoms may start to present themselves for up to a decade after deployment. The occurrence of other mental disorders, at nearly 20%, is also higher than the general population.

January 2010

This research published in 2010 has found that the army visited 40% of London schools from September 2008 to April 2009 and disproportionately visits schools in the most disadvantaged areas. The researchers conclude that, “the army's recruitment activities in schools risk jeopardising the rights and future welfare of the young people contacted.