Home Lifestyle It won’t be just teens rejecting National Service — their mums will...

It won’t be just teens rejecting National Service — their mums will too


Parents have been sharing their thoughts on the National Service Policy. (Picture: Getty)

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has revealed that 18-year-olds will be forced to carry out a mandatory form of National Service if the Conservative Party is voted back in at the upcoming General Election.

As part of the policy, 18-year-olds would be given a choice between a full-time placement in the armed forces for a year, or spending one weekend a month for 12 months volunteering in their community.

The party would aim to have the the scheme be open for applications by September 2025, and the programme would cost around £2.5billion a year, with plans to fund £1 billion through a ‘crack down on tax avoidance and evasion’.

Many mums and dads have been quick to voice their unhappiness over this, taking to social media and parenting forums like Mumsnet to share their thoughts.

‘This feels like a threat, not an election promise,’ wrote a Mumsnet user named catchlock, while a poster known as cavernclub said: ‘It would create a generation of teenagers who would then just want rebel against authority — being “forced” to something against your will at that age is very counterproductive. It’s very different times and culture now to what it was after WWII.’

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A few branded the idea ‘ridiculous’, while some parents merely felt concerned about their children being forced to do something they didn’t want.

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‘I have a 14 year old son with autism and learning issues. He can’t even tie his own shoelaces or ride a bike. I’m scared to death about an idea like this,’ confessed one mum. Another replied: ‘My 17-year-old has plenty to do with her paid part-time job as well as her A levels. She doesn’t need to be an unpaid volunteer care worker as well.’

However, not everyone was opposed to National Service, with some claiming it would be ‘beneficial’ for young people as a learning experience.

A Mumsnet user named MaryMaryVeryContrary wrote: ‘I think National Service is a great idea in theory and would massively benefit today’s teens, but I don’t think they would implement it effectively at all. It would probably end up a huge waste of money.’

And PurpleChrayn added: ‘I am clearly in the minority but I’m for it. I have experience of two countries with mandatory service — Singapore and Israel — and the kids it turns out are on the whole mature, responsible, and hardworking thanks to their military training.’

But what do experts think of the idea?

Parenting expert Kirsty Ketley told Metro.co.uk that she’s concerned for the mental health of teenagers if they are forced into National Service, as she claims it could be ‘catastrophic’ for them.

‘Currently, our teens are in a huge mental health crisis, with a lack of services to help them and so making them sign up to do National Service, I feel, would contribute to their mental health struggles and could be catastrophic,’ she said.

‘Even doing voluntary work, will cause anxiety for those who already struggle and the military is only really for those who absolutely want to do it — it really isn’t for everyone.’

Kirsty continued: ‘Another issue is for those who already know the career they want to do, who are hoping to go to university to study. They would have to fit in volunteering amongst their studies and it could make fitting work to help fund university a struggle. 

‘Then there are the teens who are doing apprenticeships, where they are gaining qualifications while working. Do they have to then fit in volunteering or take a year out to do the military? 

Parenting experts are concerned about the mental health of their teenagers if National Service becomes mandatory. (Picture: Getty Images)

‘I think having these things as an option would be a better idea, as there would likely be a good uptake, but forcing teens to do it. No.’

She added: ‘Many teens already volunteer in their local communities as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award and organisations such as Scouts and Girl Guiding. St John’s ambulance also has a cadet core, as do the RAF (Air cadets) and Army and Navy — maybe that £2million would be better spent on helping those organisations and improving mental healthcare for our kids instead?’

Natalie Costa, a former teacher who now works as a parenting and children’s confidence coach at Power Thoughts, was also worried about the impact National Service would have on young people’s mental health — though she wasn’t completely against the idea.

She told Metro: ‘I think that in some cases it can definitely be a benefit for many teenagers, however, I am also concerned about the impact this will have on mental health. Young people are struggling now more than ever and there has been a huge lack of funding and support in mental health, SEND services etc. 

‘Overall the emotional resilience of children and teens has drastically changed since the pandemic and I worry what this compulsory decision would do to teenagers who are forced to take part, yet are struggling with their mental health.

‘Teens have faced an immense amount of uncertainty and change over the past few years which only adds to the increasing numbers of mental health challenges that we’ve seen. Expecting 18-year-olds (who are at such a vulnerable stage of their development in these years) to be part of national service isn’t going to be in their best interest.’

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