looked on as being "military service" and frowned upon except in extreme circumstances.
But, why should National Service be military service? There are many other ways young people could perform national service.
When I have mentioned this to other people the idea is almost always rejected. I am told it would be too difficult to implement. Young people "would not want to do it". It would be "too expensive" and "too difficult" to implement. There would "not be enough for them to do" and "the insurance issues would be too great". "Who would supervise it?"
I have yet to meet someone else who thinks it would be a good idea. Yes, I admit it would not be easy to implement it. Is that a reason not to try?
My sister is opposed to it because, she says, her older child would not have gone to university. He went to university and wasted a year on a course he would not have started if a gap year had taught him he needed a more people oriented career. Her younger child regrets not taking a gap year but his mother still insists it would have been the wrong thing to do.
I know other people who say their child/ren would not have gone to university if they had taken a gap year. They say their children need to keep up the momentum of their final school year.
I wonder about this. Yes, a few students might not do this and some students might feel frustrated by having to wait. If someone does not go to university as the result of a gap year then chances are they were not really cut out for university life. If everyone else is in the same position then the frustration would be shared and, I believe, decrease - if such frustration really exists.
The real thing however would be that young people would have an opportunity to find out a great deal more about themselves and the world before embarking on further training or study.
They could be paid the equivalent of a youth allowance or unemployment benefit and required to work in a range of projects which would benefit everyone. It would give them extended work experience. They could do a lot of growing up in a year of service. I have no doubt they would also be less inclined to vandalism and law breaking. If they had been involved in a project they would be much more likely to protect it.
A columnist in our state newspaper was, rightly, outraged at the way some newly planted trees had been vandalised - just for the sake of vandalising them. It was done by "bored" young people with "nothing to do". What's wrong with spending a year planting trees?
John Major once said of youths causing trouble, "We need to understand a little less and condemn a little more." Perhaps we also need to require a little more.