First, I want to say how much I admire and how grateful I am of the people serving in our armed forces. They have dedicated time, effort and, all too frequently, their lives to protect and serve our duly elected government's directives to defend our way of life.
Many of these fine people may have attended a Reserve Officer Training Corps program, which led them into military service. Some who attend an ROTC program do not choose the military. I believe both groups would defend their right to attend such programs, and so do I. It is the age at which this opportunity occurs that I wish to express my opinion.
Children are most impressionable before the age of approximately 16. This early cycle of development is a time for most children to gain experience and knowledge that will help them become productive adults. During this time, children are most easily influenced, either for good or bad. Most street gangs begin to recruit new members between the ages of 12 and 16.
Children between the ages of 10 and 16 are physically able to do most activities they will be required to do as adults. What children of this age group cannot do is express these behaviors at appropriate levels and situations.
During their pubescent years, for most between the ages of 12 and 16, thought processes are more acutely affected by their emotions because of hormonal and other changes taking place. These are surely their emotional growth years.
Introducing at this age a program such as ROTC that inculcates the blind following of orders is not conducive to good emotional growth. What happens to these children when the person giving the commands requires a child to perform unlawful acts, or acts that may cause them harm? Children of this age do not have the capabilities to always know right from wrong, which is why we do not impose the same judicial or punishment process to children under the age of 18.
Waiting until children become more emotionally stable will allow them to develop an unbiased knowledge and emotional foundation from which life's decisions can be soundly formed.
Ruth Davis is a member of the Lodi Unified School District board of trustees and a retired teacher.