Army recruiters have continued to strategize on how to maximize recruitment of officers from the public. However, majority of their target group is high school students who have completed and graduated with a diploma. In fact, they went ahead to create a database with all the personal information of individuals aged between 16 – 25 years. This may imply intrusion of privacy of their target groups, most of which are high school students and a few who have graduated. This even went over board when the 2002 act of “No child left behind” was passed. The act required that all beneficiaries of federal funds, whether private or public school, must provide details and contact information of students to army recruiters.
Army recruiters have used a variety of approaches to reach their targets. Apart from t he school approach, it is known that most high school students like technology and are members of social networks like my space. Therefore, these recruiters use methods like popular technology to attract audience from such persons. Others use computer games which feature military affairs. Most of such games do not conform to conventional ethics and values. Thus, they end up corrupting a child’s mind wasting his/her valuable time. This makes children more violent and diverts their attention to significant career development. Fredrich (2011) also adds that such games entice their audience and persuade them to join the millitary, at times using unethical means.
According to Jan, Mitho, Bhatti, and Ghulam (2012), engaging in active service as a military officer predisposes one to a great deal of mental health disturbances like suicidal thoughts, drug and substance abuse, mood and stress disorders among others. This clearly indicates that by recruiting health high school students into the military not only predispose those to physical traumatic events but also to mental health risks.
However, despite the above demerits of joining the army, military service has been associated with good tidings. For example, joining the army provides students with an opportunity to exercise loyalty and patriotism. Thus, in the event of security disturbance one would be ready to defend the country against aggression. Secondly, military service instills discipline and conduct to the recruits. This study aims to establish whether there is need to continue or abandon recruitment of high school students into military service.
Research Topic and Research Question
The research labors to find out the effects of recruiting army officers in high school. Upon finding out the effects of recruiting the officers at the tender age, it then sets to answer the question: Should the government abandon recruitment of army officers in high school?
Justification of the Research
Following the inception of “No Child Left Behind” Act of the year 2002, recruiters of the United States military personnel have access to all schools that receive State funds to target recruitment of high school children. The act targets to recruit students aged between 14 to 18 years to join the American armed forces . The act of recruiting the military personnel from high schools has grown in vigor and aggression, the phenomenon is not specific to the United States as United Kingdom already has a third of its armed forces recruited at an age less than 18 years. Supporters of the move appreciate the significant position the military holds in the historical development and sustenance of American socio-economic status. They believe in the process of making the military strong and reliable needs to take all angles and consider all available options. While the recruitment of high school teenagers may hold a bright future for the army, the long term effects on the adolescent military personnel stand several risks.
It is true that school children have the entitlement to a variety of career information. Potential roles in the military and armed forces is not an exception to the career opportunities teenagers and young adults should get access to. The school gives students guidance on the paths of career they can prosper in as well as an opportunity to interact with their future employers. The proponents argue that from age in memory, nationalism has been an integral portion of school curricular . They say there is no prominent paradigm shift from the already widely accepted shows of loyalty like citation of the Lord’s Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance to include recruitment in schools . However, there is absolutely no need to preach military prospects to the youth while in a trusting environment such as the schools. Permitting organizations to advertise their job prospects to the children when their critical faculties are nascent is misguiding. Recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance promote American students’ nationalism. Taking the step higher to get children to join the military for this simple fact disrupts and threatens the promising career paths for children.
These factors make the question of recruiting army officers in high school a topic that is worth re-examining. It will be a bright idea to have the defense forces of the country get easy access to enthusiasts of national service, but did not put into account the adverse effects of including adolescents with shaky emotional and hormonal balance in such an important department of the government. In addition, the decision to have teenagers and young adults did not put into account psychological influences of such a young population protecting the country. The navy, army and marines need well educated, motivated recruits to keep the legacy of the nation. There is fear that the pool of potential military recruits shrinks and high school provides the only hope to keep the high numbers needed. The young adolescents must get the chance to intensify and diversify their choices including the military. However, the need for recruits does not necessitate school recruitment. Whereas there are students who may be genuinely interested in joining the army, recruiters can use other settings to reach the interested. There is need to assess the impacts of these concerns on the targeted population by recruiting officers.
The most significant argument in support of military recruitment in high schools is the fact that young people are never ignorant of what they place themselves into when they accept to join the military at tender ages . There is an argument that the young militants do have the full knowledge of the risks they place themselves when they accept or decline to join the military. This increased awareness is because of the media’s concentration on negative military news. Every day, the media air the ugly truth of Afghanistan and Iraqi military combats . According to Bruce and Smith (2011), joining the armed forces may be the best opportunity most American adolescents have to attain college education. Additionally, supporters of the military crusade detest that military recruitment never takes place straight from classrooms. Those interested get a chance to think their decisions over. They have a few to discuss their future prospects in the military with their parents and peers. Supporters of military recruitment have further argued that it reduces transport costs and other logistics that may be needed to travel to recruitment centers. Others have supported the initiative because it gives young adults a chance to serve and protect their country.
The claims of full knowledge of risks in the military for the high school students may be misleading. It is insufficient to rely on news aired on television as enough warnings on the risks of military career. Given today’s media industry, there is an element of heroism that every media program tries to put across. Video games, movies and program series aired on televisions attempt to spread elements of heroism . The actions look so real to a young mind that they imagine the real military combats are as they appear on movies. Given the developmental stages of their brains, adolescents fall to such hoodwinking perceptions and join the military with the hopes of turning out to be the never-dying super hero in the battle field. The media downplays the real image of military service to a point of banality. The situation gets worse as the military personnel who know the truth about the battle field are always reluctant to offer the advice the world needs. Everyone is concerned about portraying the hero’s image and the sad, dull truths of military service always elude the high school adolescents. Those who are against the initiative to recruit army officers in high school have argued that high school students may be young and immature to make decisive choices about their career and future endeavors. Others have refused the initiative because according to them, the process is discriminatory on gender, sexual orientation, and disability.
In addition to the above prospects, there are immense public health issues of the young who join the military. The adolescents targeted by the high school military recruitment drive are often at a vulnerable stage of brain development . They experience disproportionately higher effects of health from stress than their older counterparts. According to a research carried out by American Public Health Association, the adolescent age defines a stage in life where one is unable to make informed choices. A bulk of enlisted recruits in American high schools is in their late adolescence . This is a stage in life when the youth undergo robust growth and portray a significant deal of physical health. The vigorous physical health is never proportionate to mental development. Their brains are never fully developed and it is the worst time to introduce any form of stress that is characteristic of military service. The undisputable aspects of military service include disengagement from family members, absolute obedience, potential for physical injury and death and all-time uniform appearance. There is requirement for responsibility beyond the needs of the individual.
Proponents of the drive claim that the military is a volunteer force and needs open recruitments to keep its numbers. The navy, army and marines need well educated, motivated recruits to keep the legacy of the nation. There is fear that the pool of potential military recruits shrinks and high school provides the only hope to keep the high numbers needed. The young adolescents must get the chance to intensify and diversify their choices including the military. However, the need for recruits does not necessitate school recruitment. Whereas there are students who may be genuinely interested in joining the army, recruiters can use other settings to reach the interested. In the event that the interests of the recruits are substantial, they would be eager to pursue other means of reaching the recruiters and join the military . Bringing the recruits to a setting with hormone-laden, peer-influenced and unable-to-make-decisions adolescents only serves to sidetrack others from their life-long dreams.
Operationalization of the Research
This research falls under social sciences and is a life science. The effects of high school recruitment of army officers are a phenomenon that cannot be measured directly. Operationalization, therefore, measures the phenomenon of high school recruitment although the extents of the effects are not directly measurable. This concept enables the definition and examination of the fuzzy nature of the research question. In this respect, theoretical concepts of the effects under investigation become clearly measurable and distinguishable in terms of empirical observations . The requirement that all schools receiving state funds should accept military recruitment at least once a year is misplaced. Supporters of the scheme claim that the relationship between schools and the state should be two-way. These schools have no otherwise but to accept military personnel to talk to the students on military career prospects at least once a year. This means that the military will have a composition of the middle and lower class as the drive does not target private schools. This is tantamount to economic segregation . The research labors to specify what is in the survey and what is not and specifies the extension of the research topic.
This research is an abstract simplification of some part of the universe. It appreciates that there are other practices in the recruitment of army officers that affect the officers’ lives and development in their careers. The research contains concepts, objects and all the entities that are of interest to the study . Adolescents of the age targeted by high school military drive lack the ability to make decisions as fully grown adults. Their mental development has everything to do with this inability. In addition, peer-group rebellion phenomenon leads some to join the military . Further, others find themselves in military service due to raging hormonal imbalance characterized by adolescence.
Research shows that although people have the best health at adolescence than any other time of their lives, they stand three times higher chances of dying than children past the age of infancy. This is because they are adventurous and get themselves in risky situations . They get involved in accidents and pay the price for their mischief. It will, in addition, address particular purpose and relationships between the objects and concepts of the survey.
Data Collection Plan
The effects of army recruitment have qualitative effects on the recruits rather than quantifiable effects. For this reason, it is imperative to use qualitative methods of collecting data use in the research. Whereas there are several qualitative methods that can be applied in collecting the data and analyzing the effects of high school recruitment in the states, the best approach to take for this case is in-depth interviews. Observations and focus groups are the other two methods that could be applied in this context . Interviews would allow the observer to capture the viewpoints of project participants, project staff and other parties involved in the survey. In-depth interview will entail a detailed dialogue between the interviewer and army officers who got into the service at high school level, their families ad army officials. In addition, the research will interview therapeutic experts who provide health and psychological advice to army officers.
Researchers will conduct an in-depth interview of 438 participants who will be comprised of army officers who joined the force while still in high school. 25 army officials (recruiting officers) will be part of the respondents. Close family members of the 80 interviewed will also be part of the contributors in the data collected. In-depth interviews are the best data collection method for this research since it yields richest data, new insights and details in a research. The method provides a face to face interaction with the correspondents, an aspect that is imperative in revealing the real situation of the officers under investigation. It will provide an opportunity to explore the topic in depth.
Proposed Method of Observation
A qualitative methodology with focus on in-depth interviews will be utilized in this study, which aims at gathering information on the knowledge, attitude, and effects of recruitment of army officers in high school. This study design is advantageous because it helps to determine and report the way things are and fully describes possible behavior, attitudes, values, and characteristics.
Semi structured interview schedules will used as the research instruments. Face to face interviews with the consenting participants shall be conducted in the established strata or quotas. The interviews will be at on the street, cinema centers, shopping malls, and at household levels. Those who cannot make it for a face to face interview will be interviewed through the telephone, and/or the semi-structured questionnaire mailed to them for response. In-depth interviews are widely used in qualitative research in combination with other techniques like qualitative narrations and focus group discussions. However, interviews have remained to be the most flexible and continuous method. The interviewers shall be required to familiarize themselves with the participants and the type of questions for smooth data collection.
Face-to-face interviews are advantageous because the interviewer gets ample time to question the respondent with the relevant questions. The interviewer can also simplify unclear statements to the interviewee. On the other hand, telephone interviews provide an avenue to reach those who cannot be accessed in person. Telephone interviews tend to be faster since a computerized program can be used to conduct the interview. However, interviews in general can be costly and time consuming especially when there is limited time.
The inclusion criteria shall entail all consenting men and women who are between 18–42 years.18 years is the youngest age one can join the army while 42 years is the maximum age. Besides most high school students are approach graduation from high school at 18 years of age. On the other hand, the exclusion criteria shall include all men and women who decline to participate and aged less than 18 years of age or more than 42 years of age.
Semi- structured questionnaires with both open ended and close-ended questions shall be used during the in-depth interviews. Pretesting of questionnaires will be done using 10% of the sample size. Adjustments and corrections would be done to ensure validity and reliability of the instrument.
Probability based sampling technique will be used and in this case, stratified random sampling. Stratification process groups members of a certain population into subgroups known as strata before conducting the actual random sampling. Stratified sampling reduces the potential for human bias in the selection of cases to be included in the sample. As a result, stratified sampling provides us with a sample that is highly representative of the population being studied. Hence, chances of getting sampling error are greatly reduced and therefore possible to generalize the study findings.
Since the units selected for inclusion in the sample are chosen using probabilistic methods, stratified sampling allows the researcher to generalize (i.e., make statistical inferences) from the sample to the population. This technique of sampling is important when there are sub-populations in the study area and need to be included in the study sample. This is a major advantage because such generalizations are more likely to be considered to have external validity and a high level of statistical accuracy.
However, one of the demerits of stratified sampling is that it can only be carried out if the list of the population is complete and available. Obtaining an absolute record of the target population can be difficult for a number of reasons. Besides if a list of sampling frame is readily obtainable, it would be difficult to gain access to the list. Furthermore, the list may as well be secured by privacy and confidentiality policies or require a lengthy process to attain permissions. As a result, it may be difficult and time consuming to bring together numerous sub-lists to create a final list from which you want to select your sample. As an undergraduate student, one may simply not have sufficient time to do this. Another disadvantage is that stratified sampling may not be very useful where dissimilarities exist in the subgroups (strata).
Sampling size and sampling process.
The study will pay attention to the city of St. Catharines as the study area. This city is one of the largest cities in the Niagara region in Ontario. The city has six municipal wards with a total population of about 132,000. However, the population of males who are between 18 – 42 years of age is 19,600 while the population of females aged between 18-42 years is 20,500 . Thus, the total study population is approximately 40,100. The six municipal wards will be selected and used. Representatives from each of the municipalities in St. Catharines will be randomly sampled according to male and female strata and assembled to from the entire study sample.
The Sample Size will be calculated as per the Fisher Formula (Fisher et al, 2002), which is summarized as:
n = Z2 p*q
n = desired sample size (if the target population is greater than 10,000)
z = the standard normal deviate at the required confidence level (1.96)
p = the proportion in the target population estimated to have particular characteristics being Measured (30%).
q = 1-p
d = the level of statistical significance set. That is, the degree of accuracy desired, usually set at 0.05 levels.
At 95% confidence level, therefore level of precision = 5% (0.05)
p = 0.3, z = 1.96, d = 0 .05
Therefore, q = 1- 0.05 = 0.95
n = (1.96)2* (0.95)* (0.3)
= 3.8416 x 0.95 x 0.3
n = 437.9
Thus, n = 438
The total sample size is 438 and according to stratified random sampling, the participants will be selected as shown in Table 1.
Each individual will be chosen randomly and entirely by chance, such that each individual had the same probability of being chosen at any stage during the sampling process, and each subset of k individuals had the same probability of being chosen for the sample as any other subset of k individuals.
Possible Interview Questions
- Are you familiar with the army recruitment process in the country? If yes please describe how the process occurs
- What is your opinion on recruitment of high school graduates in the army?
- In your opinion, what are the positive effects of recruiting high school graduates into the army
- In your opinion, what are the negative effects of recruiting high school graduates into the army
- What is your advice to the families who are planning to send their high school kids to the army?
Ability to generalize findings
Presence of a complete list of sampling frame in a given study population enhances the ability of findings to be generalized. However, having a limited sample size and an incomplete sampling frame limits this ability.Generalizability implies the ability to check for regularities in the observations and predict future occurrences. Thus, the findings of one study can be applied in another setting if it meets the standards. In this study, a larger sample size will be selected in order to reduce sampling error. Likewise, sampling process will be done in a keen manner to reduce chances of sampling bias and thus increase the ability to generalize the study findings.
Proposed Plan of Analysis
The data gathered will be processed in a stepwise manner, starting by data cleaning to ensure no incomplete questionnaires are analyzed. The complete questionnaires were coded and categorized for easy handling and analysis. The clean coded data will be then entered into a computer as a back up to the hard copies. Data analysis will be done with the aid of SPSS (statistical package) version 20 and MS Excel. Statistical techniques and descriptive narrations will be used to generate meaningful information. The interview questions will be analyzed using descriptive narrations. Descriptive statistics including mean, standard deviations, and regression analysis will be used to compare the variables as well as determine possible outcomes of the dependent variable with respect to changes in the predictor variables.
The data generated will be then be presented in form of tables, bar graphs, and pie charts and interpreted through in depth discussions that will guide inferences and conclusions. The hard copies will later be filled with references numbers and stored in a safe place for future use and/or reanalysis.
The research proposal will be submitted to both the faculty of Sociology (Brock University) and the Ethics and Research Committee for review and approval. The committee plus the faculty will then give me a letter of approval to continue with the study. Prior to collection of data, the authorities in St. Catharines Municipality will be consulted so as to obtain a go ahead nod.
Potential participants (those who meet the inclusion criteria) will then be taken through the informed consent before using them as in the study. The purpose of the study will be then explained to the respondent and that the information would only be used for the intended purposes only. The subjects participating in the study were required to sign the consent form and all information collected will be treated with utmost privacy and confidentiality.
One of the international codes of ethics that ensure ethical standards are achieved in research is the Nuremberg Code. However, other international standards like the Belmont report have been developed to protect humans as participants in social/behavioral research. The ethical principles that will be ensured in this study are principle of beneficence, respect for human dignity and justice.
Principle of beneficence includes freedom from harm and exploitation. This study will ensure this principle is observed by ensuring participants are not exposed to any form of both physical and psychological harm. If by any reason the study would result in any form of harm to respondents, then it will be terminated immediately. Moreover, psychological harm would be avoided by ensuring interview questions are framed in a less harmful manner. Respondents will also be assured that their participation and opinions in the study would not be used against them in any manner, neither be exposed to any form of exploitation.
Respect for human dignity will also be ensured by treating participants as self-directed individuals capable of making informed decisions. Therefore, participation in this research will be on voluntary basis. Besides those who decline to take part will be prejudiced or punished in any way. Any form of coercion or influence that aims are recruiting participants or controlling their opinions will be immediately discouraged and seriously condemned.
The nature of the study, its activities and roles of participants will be explained in black and white so as to ensure the right to full disclosure. Lastly, participants will have to sign an informed consent. The consent will detail the nature of the study, the right to voluntarily participate, assurance of confidentiality and use of the data obtained. In addition, the informed consent will not require the participant to right his/her names. Besides, subjects will have the right to withdraw from the study whenever they feel without victimization.
Limitation of Study
The limitation to this study will be absence of a complete sampling frame hence not all potential participants will be reflected in the population and sample size estimates. Moreover, it is difficult to know which family intends to send their child into the army. Another limitation will be lack of adequate financial resources to support to budgetary estimate of the study activities. The activities of the study may include travelling, calling, and purchasing interview materials among others. All these come with a financial implication which may not be realized during the actual study.Time constraints are also imminent since the time frame allowed by the university to do such a study is no sufficient to comprehensively meet the study objectives.
However, these constraints will be dealt with by seeking for more funds from sponsors and friends support. Secondly, the research process will focus on the important activities so as to save time and money while ensuring efficiency, representativeness, and reliability of the data.
This study will establish why high school students are perceived to be the best candidates in the military service. It will also examine the pros and cons of recruiting soldiers from high school. Furthermore, there is a narrow literature as well as theoretical gap on army recruitment process. Therefore this study will generate findings on the public’s knowledge, attitude, and perception towards the recruitment of high school students into the armed forces. It will also establish the effects such a process has on the career paths of affected individuals and as to whether the government should continue or abandon the process. This will go a long way in adding to the sociological body of knowledge.
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