Military recruiters disproportionately targeting Scottish schools – petition

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A petition challenging the military’s access to Scottish schools, where it presents an “unbalanced” narrative of the reality of service life, will be heard in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.

The petition was organized by ForcesWatch and Quakers in Scotland after they unearthed data suggesting the military visits schools in Scotland at a disproportionate rate to the rest of the country.

They say the regular visits are fundamentally about recruitment and not, as the military claims, about raising awareness of the armed forces.

The 2014 data shows the military visited four-fifths of Scottish schools over a two-year period with some hosting the armed forces up to 20 times between 2014 and 2016.

Despite Scotland representing just 8.4 percent of the UK population, Scottish schools have 11.2 percent of total military visits. The groups also raised issues of oversight.

As things stand there is a lack of clarity regarding the nature of armed forces visits and who is responsible for overseeing them. There is no clear guidance and that is a real concern,” Emma Sangster of ForcesWatch told the CommonSpace website.

Our fear is these visits are being used as a recruitment tool in schools, with the military promoted only in a positive light.

She argued it is preferable for young people to be presented with a “balance of views and discussion about the risks and consequences of joining up.

Schools, in our view, must ensure the unique risks, legal obligations and ethical questions faced in the armed forces are given due and proper consideration.

She said she hoped the petition would “spark a wider public debate” which could see Scotland “follow Wales in accepting recommendations to increase scrutiny of armed forces visits and broaden the range of employers going into schools.

The petition to properly examine the issue has gained the support of the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) young person’s branch.

Given the unique nature of the military as a career, we feel it is essential to have transparency and accountability on recruitment in Scottish schools and crucial that parents be given power over their child's involvement in military-sponsored activities,” Vice-Convener Rory Steel told CommonSpace.