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Local authorities criticised for allowing kids to play with guns on Armed Forces Day

A Peace Pledge Union spokesman said young people have the right ‘not to be swamped with thinly veiled pro-war propaganda’

TOWN HALLS faced fresh criticism today for allowing children to play with guns at events that celebrate Britain’s armed forces.

Council officials have received a deluge of complaints from parents and others over the potential involvement of children in Armed Forces Day events taking place this weekend.

Fears have grown following an event in Leicester last weekend, where primary school children handled guns despite the mayor’s insistence that nobody under the age of 16 would get their hands on weapons.

Human rights groups and peace organisations said many events this weekend are intentionally glorifying violence and presenting children with an unrealistic image of war.

Events similar to the one in Leicester are happening across the country. The main one in Llandudno, north Wales, features family and children’s entertainment along with a parade by hundreds of soldiers, which is expected to draw thousands of people.

Armed Forces Day was introduced in 2009 by then prime minister Gordon Brown. It was immediately criticised as an attempt to rehabilitate armed conflict in the eyes of the public.

Pacifist organisation the Peace Pledge Union has collected scores of examples of small children being placed at the centre of Armed Forces Day advertising.

One example is a West Lothian Council poster showing a small child playing with toys while soldiers appear in the background.

Another, in Manchester, displays an invitation for children to sit in the cockpit of a fighter jet.

Peace Pledge Union spokesman Symon Hill said that “no other institution in Britain could get away with treating children like this.

“Armed Forces Day gives children the impression that war is exciting and uncomplicated.

“Young people have a right to make up their own minds about complex ethical issues as they grow up, not to be swamped with thinly veiled pro-war propaganda.”

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