SNP and Green MSPs condemn British military for recruitment of “vulnerable” youths 

Medact report concerned over health impact of youth military recruitment 

OVER TWENTY MSPs from the SNP and Scottish Greens have condemned the UK military for targeting young people in its recruitment. 

The parliamentary motion, proposed by the SNP’s Christina McKelvie, highlights fresh evidence from health experts Medact that called for a rise in the military recruitment age. 

The Scottish Parliament petitions committee is set to hear further evidence this week on military recruitment in the country’s schools. 

Campaigners compiled military data which revealed a “disproportionate” 1783 visits to 377 Scottish education institutions across a two year period, with at least a third of visits including careers advice. 

Currently, teenagers can apply to join the UK military from as young as 15 years and seven months old, and enlist from the age of 16.

Campaigners welcome parliament progress on military recruitment in schools

22 MSPs have signed a motion stating they are “dismayed” at the military recruitment practices, given evidence of health “vulnerabilities” from early military recruitment. 

The motion reads: “That the parliament acknowledges the recent report from the health charity, Medact, on the recruitment of under 18s into the British armed forces; notes that the main findings of the report state that child recruits are more vulnerable to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcohol abuse, self-harm, suicide, death and injury during an armed forces career when compared with adult recruits”.

The motion adds that the MSPs “considers that military recruitment marketing takes advantage of adolescent cognitive and psychosocial vulnerabilities among under 18s; further considers that the current practices for recruiting children into the armed forces do not meet the criteria for full and informed consent; believes that 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 recent report from Medact has added to the already large bank of evidence that younger recruits to the military face disproportionate risks, including a higher risk of death, injury and mental health issues”. SNP Youth

The MSPs’ motion concludes that they are “dismayed to note that recruitment of children into the armed forces can start at age 15; understand[s] that the 2007 armed forces document, Engagement with UK Schools, indicated that the main driver of armed forces visits to schools was with the purpose of recruitment; believe[s] that this is reiterated further in the Ministry of Defence's 2011 Youth Engagement Review, and encourage[s] members from across the Parliament, as well as those with experience of working with children and young people, to read the Medact report.”

SNP Youth, which has campaigned on the issue, added: “The recent report from Medact has added to the already large bank of evidence that younger recruits to the military face disproportionate risks, including a higher risk of death, injury and mental health issues; and that younger people are more susceptible to military marketing which we believe provides an unrealistic representation of a military career.”

Picture courtesy of Defence Images

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