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Conservatives defend recruiting 16 years olds to army after Welsh Children’s Commissioner criticism

03 Nov 2021 2 minutes Read
British flag sewn into an army uniform (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dawn M. Weber/Released)

The Welsh Conservatives have hit back at a suggestion by Wales’ Children Commissioner that the British Army should stop recruiting 16-18-year-olds.

According to the Children’s Commissioner of Wales, Sally Holland, it was a matter of “human rights and children’s rights”.

The United Kingdom is the only country in Europe and within NATO that recruits 16-year-olds.

“For me, the evidence is clear, there are too many risks for young people when they join the army at 16 or 17 years old,” Sally Holland told S4C’s current affairs programme, Y Byd ar Bedwar.

“Unfortunately, they are more likely to be killed in their career and are more likely to have problems with mental and physical health.”

However Welsh Conservative and Shadow Social Justice Minister Mark Isherwood MS said that being able to join the Army at 16 or 17 years-old provided advantages for recruits.

“16-year-olds should be given a range of credible career options, which have the potential to enhance their lives and help them to contribute to society. Joining the army is one such option and joining early gives them a head-start,” he said.

“It teaches discipline, respect, and stability to many who may not find them in any other context, in addition to invaluable skills for a fulfilling career.

“This comes hand-in-hand with safeguards like not being deployed to the frontline until they’re 18, break points where people can drop out if the Army is not for them, the need for parental consent, and comprehensive mental health support.

“I am proud to live in a country where the Armed Forces look after their troops, encourage and mould talented individuals, teach sound values and principles, and attract new recruits through persuasion rather than coercion. A career in the British Armed Forces can be a great privilege.”

The British Army said they have comprehensive mental health support and treatment for those recruited at the age of 16.

However, figures obtained by a Freedom of Information request by Y Byd ar Bedwar found that between 2017 and 2020, of the 7,949 recruits under 18 that completed the first phase of training, 2189 (28%) left before completing the second phase.

The full Y Byd ar Bedwar programme on S4C will be broadcast at 8.25pm.

 

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Pawl
Pawl
23 days ago

gobeithio, fwy John Jenkins

Ed Jones
Ed Jones
23 days ago

“Look after their troops…” Really? How many ex-forces are on the streets, how many are in prison, how many feel and have been abandoned? The Tories are pure evil, especially so with regard to this out-dated practice. Have seen too many graves of child soldiers.

Mark
Mark
23 days ago

They trot out any old BS just to make it ok to recruit child soldiers, If a 16 year old feels the only option they have is to sign up, then they have been badly let down by the education system and society, get the military out of schools, stop them targeting deprived areas and raise the minimum recruitment age to at 18.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
23 days ago
Reply to  Mark

We can condemn African terror groups for child soldiers but we must never criticise our English overlords.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
23 days ago

Try Googling MPCT – Motivational Preparation College for Training. It is essentially to groom children for the armed forces. Funded by the Welsh government as well.

Lorcan
Lorcan
23 days ago

For me- What a load of wishy- washy nonsense from the commissioner . Joining at 16 saved me from being a right scally . I was going down the wrong road. I had education, direction, discipline for life. Best thing I ever did . The vast majority of the lads I joined with are now senior business managers, business owners , engineers and hold other senior appointments all around the world and in Wales . I am not a royalist or a UK lover . I am a welsh nationalist. I just needed a job and that’s what people forget… Read more »

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
23 days ago
Reply to  Lorcan

Lorcan, whilst I’m glad that your life turned out right for you and, by the sounds of it, serving in the armed services was the right choice for you, I can’t accept that this should be the only option left for children who have not received the education, family support and everything else that children should have a right to. If you join the armed services because you want to then fine, but joining because it is the only way out of poverty or (worse still) because you’ve been told that that is all you are good for is just… Read more »

Lorcan
Lorcan
23 days ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

yep I agree with that .

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
23 days ago
Reply to  Lorcan

Don’t want to p1ss on your parade but you fought for the English government and the English crown when you could have stayed on in school. You were a kid and they took advantage of you pretending you didn’t have other options. They groom kids from poor backgrounds and convince them that they have no other option.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
23 days ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

Which is why they use the likes of MPCT to do just that – groom children who are not succeeding in the educational system, who have unstable home lives and not much of a future. Instead of intervening and improving their life chances they get encouraged to join the army as if that is the only ‘choice’ open to them. MPCT should really be called the Cannon Fodder College. I wonder if we could get a petition going to cut their government funding?

Lorcan
Lorcan
23 days ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

No that’s incorrect- I chose to because i wanted to , I am welsh but unfortunately we are part of the UK.(nothinh i could have done about that) Secondly , I was from a very rich background whose parents wanted me to go to uni , naaaaa not for me – i chose to because i wanted to and i wanted to earn cash . I had no recruitment , i woke up one day and decided to walk to the careers centre and join up- job done – no grooming- nothing .Sorry I urinated on your potatoes.

CapM
CapM
19 days ago
Reply to  Lorcan

Were there many others who were “not a royalist or a UK lover” that would declare ” I am a welsh nationalist” and who” just needed a job” though they were from a “very rich background” in your regiment?

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
23 days ago

I remember going to the local jobcentre one day and the army recruiters there tried to latch onto me. I told them I was anti war and not interested but they still thought they could groom me by pretending that I had choices like just being a driver for them (driving soldiers around to make it less of a trek for them to kill people) and that I could end up going to the Millennium Stadium for the rugby (like its guaranteed), so I told them “Sorry mate, i’m not interested in saluting goats” and they left me alone. There… Read more »

Lorcan
Lorcan
23 days ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

Good for you , well done . You made a choice and went for it . You have owned your decision and your choices- just like me (right or wrong) .

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