Strict rules, military discipline and real friendships. If many of the troubled youths of Europe can change through compulsory military service, why not our youths? 

We read or heard the news about the case of aggression between two students at a secondary school in Pembroke where even two educators were injured. We also hear about cases where  youths insult, threaten or even attack their teachers. In one case that occurred at the secondary school within the St. Ignatius College at tal-Ħandaq a student attacked the Head of School. I have no qualms in saying that in the young generation we find youths who show no respect to anyone or anything and who are arrogant, given to vandalism, aggressive and without discipline. 

Compulsory military service can be described as being an authoritarian move but I think that we need it. Take Sweden and France. These two European countries reintroduced compulsory military service after the practice had been discontinued for a while. I think that it is about time that the Maltese authorities consider introducing it in an attempt to control this arrogant behaviour at schools, on the streets and in the community. 

Although military service can be hard and difficult for adolescents and youths, I think that its advantages are not in doubt. I think that compulsory military service can help youths find a purpose in life and help them develop a sense of responsibility. Military service helps shape a person’s character. 

Compulsory military service can help decrease unemployment among youths and nurture good qualities such as discipline, prudence and modesty.  Military service can help teach youths a trade and give them important skills such as team work and time management. 

In light of the ever increasing obesity rate among adolescents and youths in our country, military service can help them lose weight and stay healthy through regular and frequent physical training programmes. 

To be fair, there are some disadvantages to compulsory military service including the fact that it goes against one’s free will, it clashes with other ways of teaching and that not everyone is cut out for military service. 

Having said this I am all in favour of military service. I experienced it when I spent 3 wonderful years as a Reserve with the Armed Forces of Malta. It teaches you to respect yourself, your superiors and those around you. I think that the introduction of compulsory military service in Malta could provide an inspiration and guide to many Maltese adolescents and youths who lack them.