C’mon kid, it’ll be fun…
School Military Recruiting Could Violate International Protocol
by Jim Lobe
WASHINGTON – Pressed by the demands of the “global war on terrorism”, the United States is violating an international protocol that forbids the recruitment of children under the age of 18 for military service, according to a new report released Tuesday by a major civil rights group that charged that recruitment practices target children as young as 11 years old.
The 46-page report, “Soldiers of Misfortune“, which was prepared by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for submission to the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, also found that the U.S. military disproportionately targets poor and minority public school students.
In a survey of nearly 1,000 children, aged 14 to 17, enrolled in New York City high schools, the ACLU New York affiliate found that more than one five respondents — equally distributed among the different grades — reported the use of class time by military recruiters, and 35 percent said military recruiters had access to multiple locations in their schools where they could meet students.
Canada for it’s part ratified the same protocol, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (CRCOPAC), on February 12 2002, meaning our government has also pledged to keep recruiting drives directed at those 16 and older. And while the Canadian Armed Forces have perhaps not been as gung-ho in their recruiting tactics as their American counterparts, scrutiny of how recruitment officers operate on campuses has been increasing.
With the war and occupation in Afghanistan continuing, the Canadain Armed Forces have launched Operation Connection, a massive recruitment effort aiming to swell the Canadian military ranks by some 23,000 by 2010.
In response, a coalition of Canadian anti-war activists launched Operation Objection. Headed up by Act for the Earth, the group has initiated a country wide anti-campus-recruitment campaign. The organisation has highlighted the renewed push for recruitment on campuses, and issued handbooks and other materials on how students (and parents and faculty) can prevent army recruitment on their campuses, or at least ask the tough questions that don’t always come up at job fairs or classroom presentations.
I think it’s also legitimate to ask whether Canadian recruitment efforts also violate the CRCOPAC. Under the protocol, children under 18 cannot be recruited into the army without parental approval. While minors may not be allowed to sign up without their parents knowing, the fact that military recruiters are on campus, including high schools, without parental knowledge or approval, raises serious questions. And with new recruitment ads that are more like music videos, as well as a flashy website promoting ‘cool stuff,’ there’s a definite sense that the youg folk are a central demographic for recruitment.
No one can fault the military for using the newest technology or advertising methods, really, but when it comes to targeting campuses and young people, I’m glad that there are some folks out there to run a bit of interference.