Last year, Henry F. Moss Middle School in Bowling Green, Ohio, offered students a brand new course. And, as a headline in the local newspaper proclaimed, this was “not your traditional class.” For starters, the teacher—an army sergeant—had told the Bowling Green Daily News that one of his goals was to expose these seventh- and eighth-graders to “military values” that they could use as “building blocks” in life. To that end, students in the class earn military style ranks, engage in army-style “PT” (physical training) and each Wednesday, wear camouflage pants and boots.
This is the Moss Middle School Leadership Corps, part of the growing trend of military-style education for pre-adolescents.
Congress surely meant to do the right thing when, in the fall of 2008, it passed the Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA). The law was designed to protect kids worldwide from being forced to fight the wars of Big Men. From then on, any country that coerced children into becoming soldiers was supposed to lose all U.S. military aid.
It turned out, however, that Congress -- in its rare moment of concern for the next generation -- had it all wrong. In its greater wisdom, the White House found countries like Chad and Yemen so vital to the national interest of the United States that it preferred to overlook what happened to the children in their midst.
With a seemingly endless war on terrorism gnawing away at the possibility for a lasting peace many activists in the United Sates are finding that they are drawn to a form of activism that deals with the relationship that young people have to militarism. The work is called, counter military recruitment or counter-recruitment for short, and it primary focus is to demilitarise a nation by attempting to first demilitarise the minds of its youth.
Counter-recruitment and school demilitarization work in the U.S. has gone through several cycles of expansion and contraction during the last few decades. The first expansion was during the early 1980s when it was supported by a small number of national organizations, such as the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), War Resisters League, Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO) and National Lawyers Guild. Most grassroots activities at the time were carried out by chapters of these organizations and a number of independent community peace groups (including COMD and, eventually, Project YANO).
Through articles, images, survey data and interviews, Sowing Seeds: The Militarisation of Youth and How to Counter It documents the seeds of war that are planted in the minds of young people in many different countries. However, it also explores the seeds of resistance to this militarisation that are being sown resiliently and creatively by numerous people. READ MORE