Ban American Child Soldiers

     Only the USA and Somalia have refused to sign the United Nations agreement to ban child soldiers.  This may shock Americans because they are unaware 17-year olds can enlist in the Armed Forces of the United States, and 1400 minors are currently in uniform.  As the US military evolves into a more mature and professional military force, it's past time to end the practice of American child soldiers.  The Pentagon opposes this because it just doesn't like change, and because recruiting will become slightly more difficult.  

     How can the US military enlist a child, even with parental consent, and then hold him to a contract he signed as a minor?  This presents other legal problems because in most states a 20-year old private faces years in prison for having sex with a 17-year old private in his unit.  From a legal standpoint, it is irresponsible for the US military to have children sleeping in open barracks with adults, and even taking showers together.  Drill sergeants should have parent consent forms signed before any dangerous activity, but they do not.

     It's only a matter of time before trial lawyers discover the US military violates numerous state and federal child labor, child abuse, and child endangerment laws while investigating the injury or death of a 17-year involved in training.  Military instructor's could face criminal charges if such laws are strictly enforced. The Pentagon does have a policy of keeping children out of combat zones. This became a problem before the invasion of Iraq when over 300 children were pulled from units that were about to enter combat.  Our military has enough recruits and does not need the hassle of children issues.  Moreover, the USA needs to set high standards for the world to follow, and enlisting children only makes the USA seem barbaric.

    There will be cases where an interested 17-year old changes his mind about enlisting after his 18th birthday, but this should be permitted.  The US military does require hazardous work to say the least.  American society thinks a 17-year old is not mature enough to buy guns, ammo, cigarettes, alcohol, pornography, or vote, yet he can join the Army and learn to kill people, and be killed. This is not rational.  Enlisting 17-year olds is a minor readiness issue, but an obvious moral problem.  Its time to ban American child soldiers.

                                             Carlton Meyer



Who is a Child Soldier?

 How can you use the term "child" or "children" to describe a 17 year old?  17 year old criminals are tried as adults.  The real issue here is not their age.  Let's be real, your talking about a 17 year old...not a 12 year old. That is what the point of banning "child" soldiers is about.  12 and 13 year olds running around in 3rd world civil wars with AK-47s.  Not a 17 year old who got permission from his parent...signed the dotted line.  The law states that that 17 year is of his/her right mind.  The law that governs enlistment.

The real issue is the double standards through out the legal > system.  You brought up the nice bit: American society thinks a 17-year old is not mature enough to buy guns, ammo, cigarettes, alcohol, pornography, or vote, yet he can join the Army and learn to kill people, and be killed.". But of all of that the reality is that it is a roll of the dice whether or not an adult between the ages of 18 and 20 can do any of that other than vote.  21 is the legal age to drink in all 50 states.  Most states show that in a "sexual" adult state that girls are adults at 18 and boys at 21...and some states (in the south no less) consider a girl sexual adult around 16 or 17.  And pornography is just as squirrelly.  Some states and communities 18 doesn't get you in the strip have to be 21...even if you don't by alcohol.

The point I am making is that age is a vague idea.  You can not call 17 year olds children, and in most cases 21 is what America considers grown.  Personally I don't think you are grown till you are 25, but that is another arquement entirely.  I think the military cut off should be 21.  That way you can kill...drink...get laid...look at porno if you chose...and have no excuses for making a decision you regret later.  


Ed:  I agree, it's a comical situation.  But since the rest of the world has agreed that 18 years old should be the limit, I think the USA should bend a bit.  Especially since US policy is that 17-years old can't be in combat anyway.  And as you suggest, an even higher age may be better since teen soldiers are most likely to do "immature" things.