Really Preying On Teenagers?
By David Howard
11 October, 2006
scandal of former US Representative Mark Foley hitting on teenage boys
pales in comparison to the Pentagon’s serial penetration of our
high schools and the Armed Forces’ barely-legal attempted seduction
of every 16 to 18-year-old male and female, Congressional page or not.
By virtue of the 2002 No
Child Left Behind Act, military recruiters get the names, addresses
and phone numbers of all high school juniors and seniors, unless they
or their parents explicitly object.
Military recruiters are also
lurking in cyberspace 24/7, using technology like MySpace and Podcasts,
and they’re luring unwitting children into lethally dangerous
combat liaisons by inducing them to play interactive, first-person-shooter
war games on www.AmericasArmy.com.
On the America’s Army
website any child still left unrecruited can obtain “hands-on
support from army recruiters”, free t-shirts and game discs, or
engage in “simulated missions in the war on terror.”
And if that’s not an
alluring enough fatal attraction, your unprotected child in cyberspace
is just a click away from America’s Army’s “Virtual
All this hi-tech glitter,
dazzle, blood and gore costs American taxpayers a good chunk of the
3 billion dollars spent annually on recruitment.
Child recruitment does not
lead to Mark Foleyesque Instant Message hookups, but rather to piles
of 18 and 19 year-old soldier corpses in Iraq, where the most likely
hook-up is to life support equipment and prosthetic devices.
If we don’t let Rep.
Foley IM our children, why do we give their cell phone number to a recruiter
with a rap sheet?
According to the Associated
Press, "More than 100 young women who expressed interest in joining
the military in the past year were preyed upon sexually by their recruiters….One
out of 200 frontline recruiters — the ones who deal directly with
young people — was disciplined for sexual misconduct last year."
So if your child is really
unlucky, she can run into a recruiter who is both a slick, misleading
sales rep and a sexual predator.
The No Child Left Behind
stealth recruitment requirement conveniently took effect in December
of 2002, a year and a quarter before shock, awe and occupation led to
a current death toll of 2,730 American men and women and perhaps 100,000
or more distinctly unsimulated Iraqis.
Since public schools face
an ultimatum of complying with recruitment abuse or losing all federal
funds, it’s virtually impossible to challenge NCLB and survive
as an administrator. The only recourse children’s rights advocates
have is to interpret the opt-out feature of the law with integrity and
care and to restrict recruiters’ advances on our children.
Some school districts make
the NCLB opt-out form user-friendly, but at the other end of the spectrum
administrators bury opt-out in a stack of bureaucratic gibberish that
few parents or students will ever read. Some institutions restrict military
recruiters to closely supervised once-a-year presentations at career
day, but others let anyone with a snazzy uniform randomly chat up the
kids at lunch and recess.
School administrators are
up against a very slick, cynical and well-funded operation. Here are
a few recruiter tips from an Army handbook published in fall of 2004:
librarians, administrative staff and teachers."
"Know your student influencers.
Students such as class officers, newspaper and yearbook editors, and
athletes can help build interest in the Army.”
"Coordinate with school
officials to eat lunch in the school cafeteria several times each month."
"Deliver donuts and
coffee for the faculty once a month."
"Get involved with the
local Boy Scouts.”
"Order personal presentation
items (pens, bags, mousepads, mugs) as needed.”
How can we keep the Pentagon
from preying on our children? It won’t be easy. The American Friends
Service Committee has been working on constructive alternatives to the
military since 1917. Their web page http://www.afsc.org/youthmil/
provides an excellent start for youth, educators and activists.
But if the idea of your school
being obliged to pimp for the Army disturbs you as much as it disturbs
me, you probably won’t rest until the recruitment provision of
NCLB is repealed and we all acknowledge that child recruitment is as
obscene as child pornography.
is a member of the Board of Directors of Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions.
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