Moral Low Ground

War & Peace

Why U.S. Military Recruiters are Child Predators

December 9, 2010 by Brett Wilkins in US Military & Veterans with 9 Comments
The US military wants to make killers out of YOUR kids. (Photo: US Army/Flickr Creative Commons)

The US military wants to make killers out of YOUR kids. (Photo: US Army/Flickr Creative Commons)

Amy Hagopian, a professor at the University of Washington, has landed in hot water over a paper she’s co-authored in which she compares military recruiters to child sex predators.

The paper, titled “Should We End Military Recruiting in High Schools as a Matter of Child Protection and Public Health,” appeared in the American Journal of Public Health and has drawn rabid criticism from right-wing reactionary circles. Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor ran a story on Hagopian yesterday that stopped just short of calling on her employer to fire her. But any examination of actual military recruiting practices will quickly and fully validate Professor Hagopian’s meticulously researched findings.

The US military actively and enthusiastically targets children for recruitment. “First to contact, first to contract” is a motto recruiters take seriously. Not only  have new Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) programs been established in high schools all across America, pre-JROTC programs at junior high and even elementary schools target children as young as the fifth grade. These are 10- and 11-year-olds.

Alex Kronman, a ten year-old fifth-grader himself, had this to say: “If people are not allowed to drink alcohol until the age of 21, they should not be able to make a decision that could cost them their lives until at least that age.”

But not all kids are as smart as Alex; many end up in the military as a result of being targeted at such a young and impressionable age. While JROTC is prohibited from outright recruiting of children, between 30 and 50 percent of JROTC cadets do end up in the military and former Defense Secretary William Cohen has called the program “one of the best recruiting devices that we could have.

Perhaps you don’t find the militarization of our children troublesome. But did you know that under an obscure provision of George W. Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ education act, all U.S. public schools are required to provide students’ names, addresses and phone numbers to military recruiters? Some schools have even forced students into JROTC and railroaded them into taking supposedly voluntary military entrance exams. Nine students were suspended at Fremont High School in South Central Los Angeles when they refused to take the test.

Another way military recruiters snare our children is by deception and outright lies.

“The incentive for dishonesty is high indeed,” confirms Chris White, an ex-Marine who worked as a recruiter assistant, “Recruiters lie about college benefits, duty station assignments, veterans’ benefits and countless other aspects of the military in order to convince their clients to sign.”

A common lie told by recruiters during the bloody height of battle for Iraq was that applicants wouldn’t be sent there. A Cincinnati area recruiter told applicants that Ohio was more dangerous than Iraq.

All too often, naive teenagers fall for recruiters’ dubious pitches. Every once in a while, they don’t. Such was the case with 17 year-old Colorado honor student David McSwane, who told recruiters that he was a high school dropout with a drug problem. McSwane was advised to make a fake diploma and grade transcript and to take a detox cure for his drug use. The sergeant even drove him to the store to buy the bogus cure. Other recruiters have falsified documents or provided applicants with cheat sheets with answers to the military aptitude test.

In the Army alone there have literally been thousands of recruitment improprieties since the beginning of the War on Terror and Army officials admit that for every incident they uncover, at least two more go undetected.

In her report, Professor Hagopian asserts that “military recruiter behaviors are disturbingly similar to predatory grooming.” What is predatory grooming? “Grooming behavior is defined as the process by which a child is befriended by a would-be abuser in an attempt to gain the child’s confidence and trust,” Hagopian says.

Entire cities have agreed that military recruiters are unwelcome child predators. Berkeley, California passed a resolution calling Marine Corps recruiters “unwanted intruders.” Nearby San Francisco’s school board voted to give JROTC the boot. That same notoriously liberal city wouldn’t even let the Marines shoot a recruitment commercial within city limits.

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  1. Kathy BarkerJanuary 4, 2011 at 12:00 pmReply

    Thank you very much for your article, in which you recognize the spirit in which we wrote the article that compares the process of military recruiting to predatory grooming.
    That the school systems are collaborators in this grooming is a huge source of frustration and sorrow to us. Recruiters for college athletics and credit card companies are regulated far more than the recruiters who want to enlist students to fight endless wars.

    Kathy Barker

  2. FairchildApril 4, 2011 at 4:12 pmReply

    I found this exceedingly irritating. I am in a JROTC program myself and a lot of the things you are saying are outright lies. My sergeant and colonel have been a source of intense inspiration for me and others around them. They have never once expressed a pedophiliac ‘grooming’ — and I would know what that would feel like. A lot of this is extremely leftist slander — and I am speaking as a liberal myself. True — recruiters do go to extremes, but I truly think military service is a much better fate then dropping out of college, getting pregnant, or any other tragic fates. Please do your research better and attempt to garner experience for yourself about the program before going to such lengths to have people detest it.

    • Brett WilkinsApril 4, 2011 at 4:38 pmReplyAuthor

      Show me one lie in the article. I never used the words “pedophiliac grooming.” Yes, recruiters do engage in “predatory grooming,” much as any aggressive salesperson (for that is what they ultimately are) might do. Yes, recruiters do target our children. Why else would JROTC and pre-JROTC programs exist? As for your assertion that it’s better to join the military than drop out of college or get pregnant, I must disagree 100%. There is nothing wrong with dropping out of college. Or getting pregnant– at least doing so CREATES life. The military DESTROYS life. Its purpose is the achievement of political goals by the use of deadly force. There is nothing admirable about this.
      ps- if you’re in JROTC, I assume you’re still in high school yourself. At that age, you’re right– getting pregnant or dropping out of school is not a bright idea. But neither is being part of an organization (US military) that exists as a tool of imperialist expansion, a force that is responsible for the deaths of literally millions of innocent civilians over the last 60 years. Why not choose peace? Nothing could be more patriotic.

  3. caleApril 16, 2011 at 12:52 amReply

    I’m in the NJROTC program, and I feel that if you are forced into ROTC, that’s bad. But most people I know joined knowing the good and bad about the program as well as the military life. Also in my opinion this article is kinda bias due to the lack of contacting kids that are in the program and seeing how they feel on the subject.

  4. caleApril 16, 2011 at 12:56 amReply

    Also Mr Wilkins, as long as you have two people that can never agree with each other, this world as much as I hate to say it will never be at peace

  5. CharlesApril 22, 2011 at 1:27 amReply

    Im from an AFJROTC unit and i have never seen any of the bullshit posted here if anything the military keeps you on a straight lines and promotes things such as integrity, Honor, and Discipline.

  6. caleApril 24, 2011 at 7:02 pmReply

    Also one great thing about JROTC for people is the comradeship. If I wasn’t in JROTC. I would have no good friends. Also the unit never made fun of my goal of staying on the honor roll. Where as my fellow peers not in the unit give me hell, threatened me and everything.

  7. JaylaSeptember 28, 2013 at 10:07 amReply

    Spot on. I brought up some points similar to this when I was in JROTC in high school. It didn’t go over well.

  8. DonaldApril 19, 2014 at 7:52 amReply

    I have to say banning JROTC is just antheor liberal attempt at control of information. If you remove a system or mind set that is not favorable to a socialist/liberal agenda early in a persons life they are less likely to be American. That seems to be the general plan of the left side of politics. If kids don’t learn to be patriotic and don’t learn a sense of self respect and responsibility they will remain weak and controllable. I was in JROTC in high school and its not a club. It is in fact a class and it has a period everyday just like any other class. I left high school and went out on my own for a year and eventually after weighing my options and thinking carefully about my future ( something I learned in JROTC )I proudly joined the U.S. Navy and currently serve overseas. I’m working on my college degree and learning everyday the meaning of hard work and true citizenship. When are people just going to stop being politically correct, the crap in San Fransisco is just antheor attempt by the socialist liberals to control and filter information into the minds of the American youth. Stop questioning whether its right or wrong and just call it.

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