Scorpio Risen

Hey, Armed forces, Leave them kids alone!

Posted on: 13 October, 2007

I – and a few others in my year – have a bone to pick with my school.

Let’s not get complicate matters, let’s just keep the issue nice and simple.

 I think it is wrong for the army/armed forces to recruit in school, and I damn well think it is wrong that my school allowed/booked them to do so at my school last week. I will be writing letters about this, believe you me.

 It’s taking advantage. That is exactly what it is: it is exerting influence over kids who perhaps don’t know their own mind yet, not sure of their path on life, and maybe aren’t all that likely to go down the academic path of brilliance. Perhaps you’re not doing too well at school, you don’t like it, but you don’t know really what the hell you’re going to do when you leave. But hey, what is that? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s some be-khakied blokes in a truck driving down the drive with all the answers you’ll ever need! Thank God they’ve arrived, with their euphemisms and their bags of (militaristic) fun activities! Now all our prayers are answered!

For years I’ve known I wanted to be a journalist, and all my life I’ve wanted to write something, so I’ve been pretty set. However, not everyone is like that; heck, even when you’re at the age of 17/18 and choosing University courses, you may not even be sure what the hell you’re actually looking for. I think it’s wrong to target kids at such an impressionable age, and I think it’s wrong to influence said kids. Dress it up really nicely as much as you can, it’s still wrong – in fact, it’s worse. Because it’s bullshitting people.

 It’s banned at Universities, y’know; army recruitment. I don’t understand why it’s not banned at schools. It damn well should be. At least at Uni, you have a few more years, and a bit more maturity (and, heck, qualifications), under your belt, and you know a bit more about what you want, who you want to be, who you are. It’s not so much the recruitment idea that pisses me off so much (although, I would think anyone must be out of their mind to join the armed forces in today’s climate), but the environment in which they do it in, i.e. schools. Just, don’t do it in schools! It’s wrong – and somewhat contradictory – to look to recruit people to the armed forces in an environment where one is meant to grow and develop as a person, not catch them with a butterfly net before they’ve even figured out who they are, who they want to be and whatnot.

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5 Responses to "Hey, Armed forces, Leave them kids alone!"

I remember our careers night well.

‘Hey there! Do you have any ideas on what you want to do after school?’

I glance around, and there before stands a nice young chap in from of the RAF sign. Uh-oh.

‘Uh… I’m hoping to study medicine…’

‘Oh, fantastic! There are plenty of medical careers available with us, and the RAF will pay your tuition fees, give a good wage and you’re only obliged to stay with us for X number of years!’

‘I’ll think about it… thanks…’

Seductive. Glad that my family is able to support my ambitions; had we been less well-off that offer would have been much, much more to me. I wonder how many students recruited by the army, the navy and the RAF are now off having their lives risked?

*nods in agreement* I know, I really have to agree with this. Even now, doing my MA, I don’t know what the future holds; I sure didn’t know what I wanted when I was at school. And it is definitely is exploitation on a grand scale.

Great post.

I thought it was bad enough when some dipshits from Alcatel came to my secondary school (when I was 14, around the French equivalent of GCSE level), and that was in the context of a careers day with a variety of other people who came to talk to us about their jobs or studies.

I think there’s a simple reason why the army gets to go to schools and not universities: there are kids in schools who are never, ever going to go to university and have never been considered university material from the time they started school. Often that will have something to do with their background. They’re basically targetting the more underprivileged in society and encouraging them to go and get killed for a living, as if getting referred to in the Daily Mail as “heroes” instead of “yobs” is the best they can hope for, instead of ensuring equal opportunities for everyone. It’s really the whole Andy MacNab, “hey, I was a hopeless yob until the army taught me discipline” narrative. It’s all over lads’ mags as well – and one of the things that shows that lads’ mags are as exploitative of their public as they are of their models. Disgusting. You’re right to write letters about it.

We had a discussion about this sort of thing in one of my classes today–one thing you need to know about me is that I AM anti-military. I can understand how it CAN give some people a ‘better life,’ as in career, money, et cetera, but it also can lead to them being faced with a lifetime of debilitating war injuries and PTSD, which I DON’T think military recruiters tell people about, and furthermore being indoctrinated into a lifestyle with values that I don’t believe are right–nonindividualistic, macho, kill-or-be-killed.

Anyway, with the conservative way I was raised, these are sometimes impossible things to say out loud.

But today I was just able to say that if I heard someone bragging about all the macho amazing stuff they did in war, I’d just think they were an “insufferable braggart.”

And no, I don’t think the military should be allowed to recruit at schools. Because I have known not-very-smart guys who get it into their heads that they need to ‘man up’ and ‘get disciplined’ and that they only way to do that is to become part of a killing machine, and also get it into their heads that they WILL NOT die, WILL NOT get injured, and will have a fine and dandy life.

Unless the recruiters are able to show students a TOTALLY REALISTIC picture of what they’re getting themselves into (and I do realize that if they did this almost no one would join, that’s the point), they should not be at schools.

Here in the states it’s linked to federal funding. The public schools receive funding, and part of the “price” for that is that recruiters are allowed on campus. For high schools, parents can sign a “do not contact form” which forbids recruiters from contacting your child. The catch is you have to do a new one every year, and turn it in the district — you can’t just fill one out in 9th grade and little Johnny is covered. I work at a community college, and recruiters are allowed on our campus, because our institution receives funding from the government. Nice, eh?

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