by Alice LoCicero
Terrorists, gangs, and the US military recruit youth and train them to be violent. Each time a young person is recruited to violence, one or more adults benefit, but the youth and their families pay the price.
The US military, for example, recruits in high schools—typically high schools serving poor families. The myth perpetrated is that the youth have no other options—or that this is their best option.
However, even the distant benefits that may accrue after the youth have put themselves in harm’s way with one or more deployments to one of the current wars, the rosy picture presented by recruiters is often not fulfilled. About 21% of those discharged from the military in recent years did not receive honorable discharges, leaving them at risk of not getting all of the veterans’ benefits expected.
Many communities and organizations work against youth being recruited to violence. While these organizations hold a moral high ground in their respect and advocacy for youth, they lack the power and financial resources of the US military. That power and those resources enhance recruitment through formal advertising and informal infiltration of schools, video games, and community events– including family and sports events.
Perhaps the most powerful antidote to recruitment to violence is not resisting recruitment, but instead welcoming recruitment to non-violence. This became clear to me recently during several days at the Standing Rock encampment.
Hearing young people speak about their experiences there, I reflected on the power of nonviolence in a variety of 20th and 21st century movements: The US civil rights and anti-war movements, the nonviolent civil disobedience by Gandhi and his followers, and now the nonviolent actions at Standing Rock.
To fully understand this alternative, one must realize that nonviolence is not simply the absence of violence, which might seem to be associated with weakness. Rather nonviolence is a positive approach, requiring strength, training, and discipline based on a positive philosophy of resistance to injustice and insistence on change.
What would it be like if non-Native communities in the US followed the lead of the Water Protectors at Standing Rock?
What if there were groups recruiting youth to set things right with society through active non-violence? Surely there are youth all over this country who are well-aware of the injustices in their own communities. What if there were elders from those communities who were prepared to lead resistance groups?
Let’s start a discussion about this.
 LoCicero, A. (2010) The hidden economics of youth violence. The New Renaissance.
 https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/1039945/dod-announces-new-outreach-efforts-to-veterans-regarding-discharges-and-militar (The Department of Defense has recently recognized that some of the veterans who received less than honorable discharges had behavioral infractions associated with PTSD, and has proactively reached out to those veterans and others to inform them of the possibility of review of status.)
 For example, the American Friends Service Committee and the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth.
 LoCicero, A. (2016) Resisting Recruitment, Unpublished presentation to the American Psychological Assocation.