The author of this article wishes to remain anonymous, so she is known as 'E'.
'When E first saw pupils walking down from the school along the road carrying weapons (to the firing range, as it turned out) – she thought “SHIT! KIDS WITH GUNS – WHAT’S THAT ALL ABOUT!”
Today – it is “THE NORM” for E, she doesn’t even give it a second glance as it’s just an everyday occurrence. Now E, or as she is NOW called Sergeant H hands the guns to the kids of 13 and 14 and puts the bullets into their bullet holders – even though she says, that at the time it feels normal and ordinary – when she thinks about it, it feels wrong.
The arms company BAE Systems, along with the Royal Air Force, has run a 'science roadshow' for pupils at a Christian school in central London. The school is a few minutes' walk from where I live.
The school, St Marylebone Church of England School, aims to "nurture respect for religious, moral and spiritual values" and to help pupils to "understand the interdependence of individuals, groups and nations".
BAE Systems is a multinational arms firm, selling weapons to oppressive and aggressive regimes around the globe.
Bloodhound SSC is an engineering project that aims to break the 1000mph World Land Speed Record with a rocket-propelled car. Since starting in 2008, the project has been widely praised for its ambition and technology. However, an interview given by the project’s Senior Design Engineer in April this year suggests that the project was only set up to address a skill shortage within the military. Besides that UWE is heavily involved to serve the military, drawing on the recently published “Arms to Renewables” report by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), I highlight broader implications for employability and sustainability.
We call on the UK Government to stop its policy of allowing 15 year olds to apply and 16 and 17 year olds to be recruited into the Armed Forces. The recruitment and targeting of young people and vulnerable groups has been criticised by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. 2014 is the year to end this policy.
Why is this important?
What better way to commit our country to peace during the commemoration of World War One and remember the hundreds of thousands who died from the UK alone, including boy soldiers like Rifleman V J Strudwick who was killed at 15? Why is it that in 2014 the UK is the only country in Europe - and the only country among the permanent members of the UN Security Council - to recruit 16 year olds into its armed forces?
At Ease is a voluntary organisation providing advice and information to members of the Armed Forces - including information on conscientious objection and the right to object. AT EASE is not intended to promote a particular view about the Armed Forces.
The group says you effectively join up for six years if you enlist before the age of 18, instead of four if you join as an adult. Its lawyers say this constitutes unlawful age discrimination and violates European law.
It is the latest in a string of attacks on way the British army treats minors in its ranks. Ultimately, Child Soldiers International and other campaigners want parliament to raise the minimum age of voluntary recruitment from 16 to 18.
Increased military involvement in schools is a policy championed by the current UK government. This has meant funding the development of new cadet corps, fast-track training as teachers for former soldiers, and encouraging the adoption by schools of a military ethos.
As we mark the centenary of WW1 the UK armed forces are enjoying the highest levels of public support that they have seen for decades. One result of the global 'war on terror' has been the elevation of military service, not just as an exceptional form of labour which is due particular rewards, but also as an occupation that benefits the whole society. The last few years have seen the increasing application of military values, methods and even training in civilian spheres such as education, youth work and leisure.
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