Tuesday, March 04, 2014

On Earth Peace co-sponsors new Stop Recruiting Kids Campaign

By Marie Benner-Rhoades

Did you know that the No Child Left Behind Act requires our children's high schools to divulge students' personal information to military recruiters, without their parents' consent? The federal government spends billions of dollars a year on military recruiting and advertising, much of it directed at teenagers as their target market. This is how tobacco companies used to recruit the next generation of customers for their products.

Science tells us that "the adolescent brain is not equipped to make accurate risk calculations" in life choices, like using alcohol or tobacco, or deciding to join the military before they reach adulthood (American Public Health Association policy statement, "Cessation of Military Recruiting in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools" www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch/default.htm?id=1445).

Just like society protects minors from the risks of alcohol and tobacco use, the new Stop Recruiting Kids campaign is mobilizing public opinion and political support for protecting adolescents from exposure to the age-inappropriate risks of military recruiting. On Earth Peace is now a national sponsor of the Stop Recruiting Kids campaign along with the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth.

With this campaign, peace activists are no longer talking only to each other and ourselves; we are talking with broader segments of society. Stop Recruiting Kids is working to reach the "movable middle"--those who can be motivated to respond to protect kids--as well as our natural allies and protagonists. Here are key strategies the campaign is using to help move broad public opinion and mobilize a positive response to the campaign among each of the most important categories of the population in this "spectrum of allies":
  • featuring trusted public institutions and public figures who provide credible support for the campaign, and rallying around their public statements and actions rather than our own,
  • using social and digital media and other online platforms to embody our message and build connections with news outlets, elected officials, local groups, key allies, and supporters, and
  • forming long-term relationships of mutual respect with local school boards, administrators, faculty, Parent Teacher Associations, student groups, and other key constituencies through local organizing teams.
Carrying out these tasks requires a significant commitment to movement building and relationship building and leadership development with new people who are becoming part of the campaign.

Since Stop Recruiting Kids is a campaign to transform society and shift its core values, we are following the principles of active nonviolence and good will shown by Gandhi, King, and others. This means, for example:
  • The military, recruiters, and people who disagree with the campaign are not our enemy, and we will treat them with respect as equal members of the "beloved community" we serve.
  • We will focus on the positive aspects of protecting minors from inappropriate risks, rather than getting into confrontations or debates about military service or militarism in general.
  • We will reject the recruitment of minors as an institution in society, not reject people.
  • Our victory in this campaign is over a problem, not over people: community is our goal.
In fact, building sustainable capacity for peacebuilding is one of the core reasons we are doing this work, and why Stop Recruiting Kids is working closely with our Nonviolent Social Change ministry led by Matt Guynn. We are out to change our society, not to make ourselves feel better or anyone else feel lesser in this.

To learn more and get involved with the Stop Recruiting Kids Campaign visit www.SRKcampaign.org or contact On Earth Peace executive director Bill Scheurer at Bill@OnEarthPeace.org or 847-370-3411. Bill Scheurer is directly participating as co-coordinator of Stop Recruiting Kids on behalf of On Earth Peace.

-- Marie Benner-Rhoades is program director for Youth and Young Adult Peace Formation for On Earth Peace and edits the "Peacebuilder"newsletter.

Source: 3/4/2014 Newsline

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