“Isn’t there a KG1 and KG2? Let’s have an Army 1 and Army 2,” well-known psychiatrist Yahia al-Rakhawy said in a TV interview this week as he advocated for children to join the military.
Rakhawy teaches at the Cairo University Faculty of Medicine and frequently comments on political events, linking them to mental health issues. Though he doesn’t specialize in child psychology, Rakhawy’s credentials in the field include his essay, “What can Dostoevsky teach us about child psychology?”
“Let’s take kids at the age of 3 and enroll them in the army. There, they can learn discipline, reading and writing so that they can build the country,” Rakhawy explained during a talk show broadcast on the satellite channel Al-Hayat 2. “The whole country becomes an army. The militarization of the country is an honor.”
Fellow psychiatrist Mostafa Hussein was perturbed by the remarks, but not surprised, he told Mada Masr.
“There has been a dangerous media trend of prominent psychiatrists suggesting policies without evidence, like in this case,” Hussein said.
And these proposed policies, such as introducing psychiatric assessments for presidential and parliamentary candidates, tend to undermine democracy, he added.
“Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals should be educating the public on mental health issues and advocating for better care,” Hussein argued, “instead of spending air time commenting on public figures and acting as another instrument of propaganda.”
The military recruitment of children has taken various forms across history, from child soldiers taking part in the battlefield, to children being used as human shields. Increasingly, campaigns worldwide have called for a halt to the military enrollment of children under the age of 18.