Should A Child Have To Make Decisions Like This?

The minimum age for recruitment into the British army remains at 16 years of age.  Is this OK?

This post inspired by Guardian article: Children have no place in the British army

I have mixed feelings about this.

Yes, a boy at 16 is still a child by anyone’s standards but, like myself, most of them leave school at that age and need to find themselves a place (which usually means a job) in society.  That was difficult enough even in my day, but society has deteriorated greatly since that time, to the point where in advanced western nations it is possible for only a decreasing percentage of the newly employable to actually find ‘first-time’ employment.  Those that are lucky enough to do so often find themselves in rat-shit positions with no real future.  The alternative, if such it can be called, for the remainder of disillusioned youth is to become a social outcast, eventually unemployable, and unless they have a solid support base, drift into drug use and other questionable activity that will lead them to become a ‘Prisoner of Her Majesty’ with no further prospects other than to lead a life of crime.

Nowadays, in a society that cares more for ‘the economy’ than it does for ‘the people’, that grim prospect for more than half of each annual addition to the ‘working’ population, is a very real proposition.

The very fact that Britain has even a need to take in 16 year old recruits, is very telling.  Consider this.  By the time that each year’s additions to the ranks of the jobless (around 50% of all) reach the ripe old age of 18, a large number of them (mainly the ones that would or may have enlisted at that age, will have done things that have given them an official record that would disqualify them from any possibility of entry to the Armed Forces.

If Britain is to retain an army at all then it needs to catch its recruits before they do that sort of thing, and I suspect that even at 16 many of them are already borderline criminals.  The army may soon have a need to lower its age limits for recruitment not raise them.  Alternatively they could also lower their qualifying parameters and take on the role of re-education, reformation and correctional action for some of the more obvious victims of the times.

Having served in the military, I know just what a character building arena this most definitely is for young lives, disillusioned by the alternative prospects for their self-advancement and self-esteem.

Having said that, no 16 or even 18 year old should be called upon to fight and die for any cause or country.  Things should be much better than this.  There should be real prospects of a decent life for everyone without resorting to training our young to kill or be killed.

I know that service in the armed forces is and provides much more than that, and presents great opportunities to train for a successful restart into civilian life with much better prospects than were available to many prior to enlistment.  I experienced that benefit for myself.  But that is of little use if you end up dead or maimed, as a result of that service.

The world needs to change.  Society needs to change to provide real opportunities to the young such that they do not need to be faced with life and death decisions at a very vulnerable and impressionable time of their lives.  That’s the short answer.  But, hasn’t the world always been thus?

More or less, with slight variations  …and at stages, even worse.

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