Young armed forces recruits more likely to suffer mental health problems than adults

Category: Basic Health and Welfare

1st November 2013

Studies have shown that teenagers who are recruited by countries' armed forces are more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcohol problems and commit or attempt suicide than those who join as adults.

Despite this, the United Kingdom is one of just 19 countries in the world - and the only country in the European Union - that continues to recruit 16-year-olds into its armed forces.

A video released by the Child Rights International Network (CRIN) tells the story of a young British recruit who says he feels he was conned by misleading recruitment marketing. It also has an interview with an advertising executive expressing his guilt at some of the marketing tactics he employed to get young people to join the armed forces.

In view of these findings, Child Soldiers International (CSI) has urged the UK's Ministry of Defence to follow through with the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and stop recruiting children into the armed forces.

"This is an outdated practice which causes serious and long-term damage to young people. The deliberate targeting of vulnerable young people for military recruitment in large numbers is a violation of the spirit of the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the involvement of children in armed conflict, to which the UK is party", said Rachel Taylor, Advocacy Manager at CSI.

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