Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Child Soldiers

The UK is the only permanent member of the UN security council to allow 16-year-olds into the army and is alone in the practice among European countries.

Reem Abu-Hayyeh, a paediatrician attacked the practice, adding to a growing body of calls that the age at which individuals can join the armed forces be increased.

Reem Abu-Hayyeh, co-author of the editorial from the public health charity Medact, said: “Recruiting 16-year-olds does put them at harm and, for us, it is an irresponsible government policy.
Among their criticisms, Abu-Hayyeh and Dr Guddi Singh, a paediatric registrar, wrote that recruiting 16-year-olds goes against children’s rights by putting them at risk of harm and that such recruits cannot give “voluntary and informed consent” to joining up because the publicity material fails to show the realities of life in the armed forces.
Abu-Hayyeh pointed out that earlier this year army magazines were sent out with PlayStation magazines. “It is clearly targeting young people and it doesn’t show two sides of the story,” she said, adding that adolescents are more susceptible to emotive appeals.
Recent reports have also found the army particularly targets young people who are vulnerable, including those who have received poor GCSE results and those from low socioeconomic backgroundsMedact has previously released research showing that those recruited into the army as children are more likely to encounter trauma and have a greater likelihood of injury and death than those who signed up when they were adults – not least because young recruits are more likely to be sent to the frontline when they are old enough.
Abu-Hayyeh and Singh also pointed out that war-zone conditions could increase the risk of mental health problems, particularly for young and vulnerable recruits. “The army isn’t a good place for those who have faced childhood adversity,” added Abu-Hayyeh.

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