America’s child soldiers
To maintain its presence in 146 countries, the US Army needs to recruit 80,000 young people a year.
The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps was set up to encourage young people to consider joining the army. Almost 500,000 cadets between 14 and 18 are enrolled in the program. They wear uniforms, study the history of the armed forces, and receive training from retired military personnel instead of regular physical education classes. In some units, they also learn how to use weapons. The program targets high schools in disadvantaged urban areas and young people from ethnic minorities by offering free education. It receives several hundred million dollars of Pentagon funding.