The Dutch armed forces have launched a project to help youngsters with a history of petty crime and no qualifications join the army, RTL news said on Wednesday.
‘We are offering 30 youths with poor prospects the opportunity to work for the army,’ spokesman Klaas Meijer told the broadcaster. ‘The project is still in a pilot phase and we have just taken on two lads after their training.’
Researcher Peer van der Helm says the project is a good way to help youngsters stay out of trouble. ‘Many juvenile deliquents are looking for an identity and for respect,’ he said.
The army offers youngsters both an identity and respect as well as the opportunities to have a career, he points out. In addition, the youngsters live in army barracks and so are removed from temptation to re-offend.
Youngsters who have served time in jail, committed sex crimes, have major debts or who still have strong links to the criminal circuit are weeded out during the selection process.
‘This is how we keep it safe,’ Van der Helm said. ‘But we think the project will be a success. In America the army is seen as an option for disadvantaged youngsters and it works well.’