Youth campaigner launches pro-peace education campaign for Scotland’s schools
THE SCOTTISH EDUCATION SYSTEM should be a complete no go zone for British military recruitment, according to a teenager who has launched a new campaign group.
Sixteen year old Jay Sutherland, a student from Kilmarnock, has launched ‘Scotland Against Militarism’ which aims to “tackle militarism within our education system”.
The group coincides with a persistent campaign through the Scottish Parliament petitions committee to provide fresh guidance on military recruitment of young people.
Sutherland goes further than the current proposals of education and transparency groups by “calling for a ban of all military presences within schools and colleges”, basing his concerns on a recent Medact health report which found that younger recruits face disproportionate risks, including a higher risk of death, injury and mental health issues.
“We launched the group with the recent story from the Daily Mail about cadet units and how they may be introduced into Scottish schools. This isn’t the only issue we will be campaigning on but it did start the ball rolling,” Sutherland told CommonSpace.
“We would like to get young people involved, especially we would like those within the SNP youth to challenge their party on the policy of supporting keeping the recruitment age at 18. We will be in contact with the youth bloc of the SNP soon as well as other parties.”
SNP Youth, which has been one of the groups leading the campaign for a higher recruitment age, challenged its party leadership on the issue after its proposal to raise the military recruitment age was knocked back in December following opposition from senior MPs.
Campaigners have compiled military data which revealed a “disproportionate” 1783 visits to 377 Scottish education institutions over two years. At least one in three visits included careers advice.
“The argument around the military being just like every other career is even denied by the military themselves.” Jay Sutherland, Scotland Against Militarism
Currently, teenagers can apply to join the UK military from as young as 15 years and seven months old, and enlist from the age of 16.
While there have been calls to increase the military age, defenders claim it is important to respect the military among other career choices.
Rebuffing this claim, Sutherland said: “The argument around the military being just like every other career is even denied by the military themselves. They describe the military as a highly unique career, which it is. However, we think that because of this young people are especially vulnerable. That is shown in the Medact report on young recruits into the armed forces.
“The advertisements and recruitment are also glossed over with the military not even showing important regulations such as when you sign up you are locked in until 18 and the fact that younger recruits are twice as likely to be killed in Afghanistan than older recruits.”
The group has launched a twitter page @MilitarismScot and started to hold meetings with supportive groups.
In November MSPs backed a petition for further research on military school recruitment, despite Tory complaints.
The UK military denies recruiting in schools – despite its own statistics identifying military school careers events.
Picture courtesy of Defence Images
Check out what people are saying about how important CommonSpace is. Pledge your support today.