"Definitely, without doubt. It doesn't have to be in the military" - Star Readers' react to the idea of a National Service for 14-year-olds

It was revealed late last week that Downing Street are mulling over the return of national service. We asked our readers what they thought and it resulted in an interesting and wide-ranging discussion.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 4:05 pm

Here are a selection of what some of our readers had to say on the matter:

Malcolm Bush responded saying, “About time too. Too many youngsters these days, through no fault of their own, lack any sort of direction. Parents, teachers, employers Govt ministers are all guilty of failing the youth of today, even the youth of yesterday. I'm not a parent, not through choice, but I feel for the youth who have been let down badly over the years.” Josh Brooks replied to Malcolm, “was talking about this other day. Was sayin that most kids now genuinely consider selling drugs an easier and more profitable venture than full time employment. Wich, is an accurate statement unfortunately. The world we live in where the easier way to make a lot of money, is breaking the law?” This reply was the recipient of a stiff rebuttal from Mike Anderson, who wrote, “most kids. Give over with yourself.”

Not all are sold on the idea though, such as Stephen Parkin, “I think if 16 to 21 year olds are in education or employment and attending regular they should be left alone but if there not then it would be a good idea.” And Lesley Crossland says that it “Should be 2 tier , 14 to 16 who are constant offenders or truanters should attend similar to a T/A . National service for any 17 to 19 who don't have a job. Teach them a trade.”

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Tina Laybourn chimed in with her thoughts, saying that; “I think it would be a good idea for 16 year olds that leave school and don’t go on to further education or an apprenticeship, it would keep them off the streets and out of trouble!”

Richard Cherry, said “National service, bring it in for 17-19 years old and all for the young ones who don’t want to work. Teach them a trade give them a structure. All the young men coming across on boats from France with no id but a smartphone get them in as well. This will stop the crossing from France”, it seems his comments struck a chord with a number of approvals (read: ‘a thumbs up’) and also irked some others, like Marion Reader who replied saying, “Can I ask you a question re the phone thing? If you had left your family and friends and travelled across the world through foreign countries (for whatever reason), completely alone, would you be ok not having a phone? Ok with not being able to contact anyone? Your wife, your mother?” — naturally this descended into migration policy, so we’ll not dwell on that which is often a hotbed for ignorant and bigoted comments, moving on.

Martin Else said, “no because its forcing somebody to do something they might not want to do, however i do think that young offenders up to 18 year's of age should do something like this to stop them re offending. it wouldn't work with everyone but it would definitely sort out some.”

Lisa Rodber says, “Nope.. how about national service or some kind of service for unemployed or homeless or the spice people. Not all 14 to 17 year old are feral.”

And, Jude Soylent said, “Strangely enough, my son didn't do national service, but learned to cook, clean, wash his clothes, mix with different people, budget his money and work when he went to university. And before that he spent a year as a carer for his mother - me.”

Steve Fletcher added his thoughts, saying, “Definitely, without doubt. It doesn't have to be in the military, it can be in the NHS, fire service or something along those lines. It builds discipline and responsibility.”

Margaret Winfrow says that National Service, “shouldn’t be considered a punishment. In days gone by it was accepted as normal. Unless you were exempt in any way, and that was thoroughly checked out. Some enjoyed it, some hated it. But they did it.”

Whereas Gavin Glasby was rather suspicious of some of the comments that had been written, saying that it was “Interesting that a number of the keen advocates for NS didn’t have to do it themselves, especially since it was scrapped in the early 1960s”, to which Mark Earl replied saying that, “this is shorter and doesn't involve military service.” Gavin responded to Mark, “agreed but that’s not what most of the comments are alluding to. They are conflating the idea of NS to military service”.

Sadly, we couldn’t share all of your replies (and there were a few), but you can see what everyone else had to say on Facebook and on Twitter.