Memorandum from Professor Margaret Cox
This is a personal report based on regular lengthy
discussions with 15 cadets during 1991-92 on Saturdays in my home
in Guildford. Although I work at King's College London in Education,
I live in Guildford which is about 10 miles from Aldershot where
these young cadets were based. My daughter, who was 14-15 at the
time was going out with one young cadet aged 17 and I always arranged
that he would pick her up from my house before they went out to
the cinema or other recreation area. The first time I met him
I was amazed that he was accompanied by 15 other male cadets (aged
16-17) who wanted to come to my home. I invited them in for refreshments
and they chose to stay at my home for several hours each week
(Saturday) while my daughter went out with her boyfriend. This
went on for several months about two Saturdays per month (about
eight occasions in total).
As I used to be a school teacher, and train
new and existing teachers, as well as previously being a Sunday
school teacher and working with young university students I am
very experienced in communicating with young people. Each week
I had to think of activities that might interest these young cadets
and keep them occupied for more than three hours. However, although
some watched TV or played games in the garden most of them wanted
to talk to me about their worries concerning their jobs as cadets.
Gradually a whole list of concerns were raised by one or other
of the boys and I was so concerned that I wanted to write to the
Commander in Chief to report their concerns. However, they all
pressed me not to say anything because they felt it would make
matters worse for them. Eventually, my daughter lost interest
in the cadet boyfriend and they all stopped coming to my house
so I never say them again.
In the following sections I have listed the
concerns to the best of my memory and accuracy but it is over
10 years ago.
2. CONCERNS ABOUT
The main concerns of the cadets with whom I
spoke regularly were firstly bullying by more senior officers
and secondly having no means of lodging any complaints without
fear of retribution.
Although the cadets rarely went into great detail
they reported each time I saw them that they were bullied both
physically and psychologically by senior staff and older cadets.
When they first started their training they appeared to be mainly
taught through threats and general aggression rather than reason
and good leadership. From the comments they made it seemed that
this was the expected culture of the camp and the practices condoned
or overlooked by the most senior staff. The bullying was such
that many of them wanted to go home and regretted signing up for
the army. Several of them also expressed concerns for their physical
well being although I never saw any physical signs of brutality.
The fact that these young men preferred to spend several hours
a week with a middle aged mother instead of going out on the town
says something about the effects their cadet experiences were
having on their joie de vivre and their self confidence.
There appeared to be an accepted culture of
bullyingalmost akin to "John Brown's School days"
in the training camp. Cadets were regularly shouted at, had comforts
withdrawn and made to do extensive labour and other forms of punishment
for only the most minor of offences. Any bullying which occurred
from older cadets was not checked or controlled and the result
was a demoralised group of 16 cadets all of whom were very unhappy
about being in the army. They told me of many specific incidences
which I cannot now remember but which covered several hours of
Limited means of getting help
On hearing about the distress of these young
cadets I tried to suggest ways in which they could report this
bullying and possibly get it stopped. The only person they could
go to was the Army Padre who was available for counselling. However,
most of these cadets felt that they would be further bullied by
their colleagues if they were seen to be going to the padre either
because of the possible religious connotations and/or because
it was known by everyone that he was the only person to turn to.
They did try and support each other where possible, but some of
the cadets amongst the 15 were particularly fearful of the consequences
of standing up to more aggressive colleagues. As a consequence
there were no effective arrangements or policies in place to protect
these young men and to ensure that they were treated with humanity
It may be that there have been improvements
in the last 10 years since my discussions with these cadets however,
the recent reports in the press suggest that further improvements
could be made. The following may therefore be useful to the committee
in its deliberations.
Initial Induction of New Recruits
There should be a specific officer (other than
the padre) who is responsible for the physical and psychological
ongoing welfare of the new recruits for at least their first year.
This should include providing weekly compulsory discussion sessions
in small groups for all new cadets during which they can raise
issues of concern without the fear of reprisals. There should
be a method by which an individual recruit can contact someone
for help without the rest of the cadets knowing about it. Email
might be a possibility.
Ongoing support for the welfare of cadets
More senior army personnel should be responsible
for the ongoing welfare of army cadets as well as for their military
training and their health. Training may need to be given to long
established staff who have "grown accustomed" to a culture
of aggression and bullying in the camps.
All camps should have clearly articulated written
welfare policies distributed to all (including the cadets when
they first arrive) which explain the policies of support etc of
the camp and also list the persons responsible for ensuring the
policies are carried out, and procedures which can be used to
seek help and ensure that no bullying takes place.
Monitoring the practices
Even with policies in place, the actual practices
need to be monitored regularly by both keeping records of any
concerns raised, issues discussed at welfare meetings (see above)
and actions taken by senior staff to remedy problems. There should
also be on the spot checks in the sleeping quarters, during training
and during recreational periods to ensure that no underhand bullying
is taking place.
A feedback form issued to all cadets twice a
year which can be returned anonymously which would enable any
inappropriate behaviours to be reported and checked out to ensure
that all cadets are protected against any future aggressions or