NOBODY'S RECRUITS: Whose kids are they anyway?

Posted by CODEPINK Staff

Who controls access to minors when it comes to recruiting them? Is it their parents, school administrators, or international law?

International law forbids the recruitment of those under the age of 15, while the 1989 UN Child Convention defines a minor as under 18.

Into that gap fall a million advertisements delivered by mass media. Plus several thousand pencils, posters and textbook covers provided "free" of charge at school. Now add a high pressure salesman who has a teen's cell number -- because he bought her the phone.

A Marine recruiter in California was arrested in May on charges he used a 14 year-old girl to entice teenage male recruits.

Citizens in that state took it upon themselves last winter to impose controls at the municipal level. The towns of Arcata and Eureka passed ordinances limiting the ability of military recruiters to contact residents under age 18. But in December the U.S. Justice Deptarment took the towns to court, claiming illegal interference in the fed's ability to hook kids into helping keep the world safe for democracy. No ruling as yet.

Citizens with elected school boards could impose similar controls, if they got riled up. "You will find that establishing trust and credibility with students, even seventh- and eighth-graders, can positively impact your high school and post-secondary school recruiting effort," says the handbook for Army recruiters.

School board directors who argue that a weeks long Army National Guard program delivered during the school day by Guardsmen in combat fatigues is "not recruiting" obviously haven't read the manual. They just love the "free" program, which was actually paid for twice: once as part of the $2+ billion annual military recruiting budget, and again as part of the school day, half funded by local property taxes, with a price tag of around $40,000. That's the cost in a small rural school district in Maine i.e. one with a strong poverty draft pulling kids in already.

"I wonder what branch I'll get sucked into." That's a younger brother talking.

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