War & Peace
Why U.S. Military Recruiters are Child Predators
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.
Tagged Amy Hagopian, David McSwane, George W. Bush, JROTC, Marine Corps, military recruiters, military recruiters child predators, military recruiters targeting children, No Child Left Behind, Ohio more dangerous than Iraq, predatory grooming, recruitment improprieties, War on Terror