This article was originally published on Student Voice.
My first job after graduating with a BA in History in June 2012 was a one-year joint placement at War Resisters' International (a global network of antimilitarist/pacifist groups) and ForcesWatch (a research and campaigning organisation focusing on the ethics of military recruitment in the UK).
My main focus over the year was researching and raising critical awareness about the ‘militarisation’ of youth: the process through which young people encounter the military and military approaches – from the presence of military personnel and hardware in public spaces; military youth groups such as the cadets; Armed Forces advertisements online and on television; video games developed by or with the military; and military involvement in education – and are encouraged to see them as normal, necessary, often the best solution to problems/conflicts, and, crucially, to be supported, not questioned.
At War Resisters’ International I edited a book: Sowing Seeds: The Militarisation of Youth and How to Counter It. Through articles, surveys, images, and quotes, Sowing Seeds shows how young people around the world are being militarised, and how this can be challenged. Two of the articles focus on the UK: one on how military recruiters here target young people from poor and ethnic minority backgrounds, and the other on the military's activities in schools.
At ForcesWatch I did research for a report on the presence and influence of the military in UK universities, which includes paying students through their studies, running cadet units, and being the focus of a lot of science and engineering research. I also fundraised for a short documentary film on what teenagers in the UK think about the military’s engagement with them, which is being made by a team of teenage journalists.