According to a 2016 Population Representation in Military Services report, 17-to-20 year-olds compromise up to 80 percent of personnel in some branches; and the military appears to be preying on even younger teens, with a 2017 Department of Defense youth poll showing that 16-year-olds are even more attracted to joining military services than 18-year-olds. Under a parent’s permission, 17-year-olds can now enlist into the military.
Rosa del Duca stated for WhoWhatWhy, “groups critical of current recruitment practices struggle to gain access to schools at all.” Teenagers are being targeted by recruiters due to the unlikelihood of being disqualified by a prior criminal record and being more naïve than an older crowd. Under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act signed by Barack Obama in 2015, public high schools are required to provide the military with the names of all seniors, along with their contact information, or risk losing their federal funding.
Teenagers aren’t equipped to make life-altering decisions- some had to endure the consequences of being too trusting in their recruiter and not fully understanding the legally binding contracts to their full capacity. As Rosa del Duca would add, “A recruiter isn’t likely to mention the potential for physical and moral injury — or the military’s long history of sexual assault and racism, or its high suicide rate, even though it concedes that these are problems.” She describes the frequently occurring situation in which young teens are promised a quick and easy escape from a dire situation by a recruiter, only to find themselves in an even more psychologically and physically challenging one.
Beyond the coverage of WhoWhatWhy, reporting of this story is sparse. The corporate media remains silent on a potential danger faced by already at-risk teens.
Source: Rosa del Duca, “Warriors Wanted: Does the US Military Prey On Teenagers?,” WhoWhatWhy, November 12, 2019, https://whowhatwhy.org/2019/11/12/warriors-wanted-does-the-us-military-prey-on-teenagers/.
Student Researcher: Sierra Gabrielsen (Indian River State College)
Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen (Indian River State College)