Thursday, 1 October 2015

Are the Armed Forces, targeting children in deprived areas?

The Wasting Mule Online  reports that 

The Welsh Government has said it will not prevent the Army from visiting Welsh schools after an Assembly report said schools should treat such visits with caution.
Claims that the armed forces make “disproportionate number of visits” to schools in deprived areas surfaced in a report earlier this year.

The Assembly petitions committee looked into military visits to schools after more than 1,000 people signed a petition urging government to ban the armed forces from going into classrooms, claiming the visitors were targeting children in deprived areas. 
The committee found “no compelling evidence” personnel crossed the line between informing and recruiting pupils.
But it concluded the Army made a “disproportionate number of visits” to schools in deprived areas, saying the Welsh Government should conduct more research.

In the report, the cross-party group asked ministers to review guidance for future visits to make sure pupils and parents understood what soldiers and other personnel did. 

Julie James, ( Never heard of her before) deputy minister for skills, wrote to the committee and said:

“Restricting armed forces access to schools, as the petition suggested, may possibly disadvantage some young people as they will not have access to information about a full range of careers, including some which offer training of a very high quality.”
A debate in the Senedd on Wednesday heard claims from Conservative AM for Clwyd West, Darren Millar, that none of the armed forces attend schools to recruit.

He said they only attend on invitation and that they

 “seek to contribute to the life” of the schools they go to, “helping to deliver the national curriculum.”

 What part of the "national curriculum" is that I wonder?

Committee member South Wales West Plaid Cymru AM Bethan Jenkins, however, disputed that the army was only ever invited

Ms Jenkins, talking about a committee visit to a school in Prestatyn, said she was told 

“that they had an ongoing conversation with the army, and they told us that the army were very keen and very proactive in getting in touch with them to go into the schools.”
“Lets be honest here, the armed forces teams are not, in my view, presenting the profession as one fraught with danger,” she said, saying it wasn’t in the military’s interests to talk about the downsides of the job.

So could it be that the Military contact  Schools and suggest that they be invited?

Whatever  it seems the committee failed to ask or answer some questions.

  • Is there a  “disproportionate number of visits” to schools in deprived areas and if so why?
  • Are the dangers of the job explained or are they presented in the same way as Television adverts which shows military life as an exiting career. and which Julie James, ( Still never heard of her before) claims  "offer training of a very high quality".
  • Are they told  that up to up to 9,000 British soldiers  who served "Queen and country" are homeless after leaving the military, and that Shockingly, ex-service personnel account for one in 10 rough sleepers across the UK.

It seems that the  Assembly committee  has failed to investigate the petition properly accepting the Armed service claim that none of the armed forces attend schools to recruit without examining the nature of these visits.

It is a cause for concern that pupils from deprived areas are seen as natural recruits for the armed services and are seduced with the prospect of a future life beyond the unemployment queues.

This is not an argument about pacifism its about explaining the role of the military properly and not  simply presenting it as a career opportunity for thos who may feel thety have none.    

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