WILPF to UN: Stop Military Recruitment in US schools!

On February 7, Advancing Human Rights committee member Tzili Mor addressed the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva regarding U.S. violations of the Optional Protocol on Children in Armed Conflict:

“The nearly 14,000 boys and girls who actually sign up for military service represent only a tiny fraction of the youths targeted annually by military recruiters who have become an ominous presence in elementary schools, junior and high schools across the country where students as young as 11 can participate in Cadet and Training Corps. These are military funded school programs in which military instructors teach students about uniform inspection and drills (including ones using wooden guns or real firearms for the high school kids). Even younger children are also allowed to attend the programs because they have older siblings in the program and they would otherwise have to walk home alone.

“In its report to this committee, the U.S. Government fails to define what constitutes ‘recruitment’, and even suggests that recruitment is limited to the act of a person signing the enlistment contract. The report ignores the concerted, targeted actions taken by military recruiters, including unchecked aggressive advertising, extravagant gift giving, and false promises of benefits and harassment of pre teens and teenagers that had to take place in order to achieve this result. In 2006, the U.S. Department of Defense spent 1.5 billion dollars on military recruitment, with half of this sum used for advertising alone. Military recruitment is a process that starts long before the contract is actually signed.

“As our report documents, it starts in movie theaters, shopping malls and in public middle and high schools, often undermining a community's own norms or subverting the wishes of parents. The militarization of community life affects not only the life prospects of those young people who actually enlist for military service but the educational and employment opportunities available to all youth. It affects family life, and inevitably changes the norms of civil society.” (read more...)

WILPF’s alternative report to the U.N. highlights the many ways in which the volition of young people is violated during the recruitment process, beginning with the militarization of our communities. Over the next month, we will be collecting examples of Armed Forces advertising (posters, handbills, gadgets/swag) and directed mail for presentation to the Committee on the Rights of the Child. If you have or can photograph or otherwise reproduce examples of such items, please contact us at counter_recruitment@wilpf.org.

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