The British Army has been criticised for using paid social media adverts to target stressed teenagers who may not have got good exam results on GCSE Results day Picture: Getty)

The British Army has been slammed for using social media to target and recruit teenagers on GCSE results day who may not have got good exam results. 

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Child Soldiers International claim the Ministry of Defence used paid-for Facebook adverts to target 16-year-olds.

The charity say the advertising campaign was aimed at singling out young people at ‘times of great stress’ when students were worried about their future.

One of the adverts, which appeared on the site ahead of results day in August 2015, read: ‘No matter what your results will be, you can still improve yourself in the army.’

Child Soldiers International claim the Ministry of Defence used paid-for Facebook adverts to target 16-year-olds. (Picture: Getty)

Rachel Taylor, the director of programmes at Child Soldiers International, told The Independent: ‘The MoD continues to target teenagers to fix the recruitment shortfall and this is another example of their strategy to recruit at the youngest possible age.

‘Explicitly doing so around GCSE results day is exploitative and preys on those who may be panicking after getting disappointing results in their exams.’

‘The answer to these issues is not underage enlistment, it is proper state investment in a full range of educational and training opportunities for all.’

She also claimed that raising the age of recruitment would not stop people from joining the army.

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The charity say the advertising campaign was aimed at singling out young people at ‘times of great stress’ when students were worried about their future. (Picture: Getty)

At the moment, the UK is the only country in Europe to allow people to join the army at 16 and one of only 46 who recruit under 18s.

The adverts were discovered after Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville-Roberts issued a PQ asking for information on ‘each social media asset used in paid campaigns’ by the British Army.

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The charity found that between 2015 and 2017, the MoD paid for 578 recruitment adverts to put out on Facebook.

A British Army spokesperson told the site: ‘As the UK’s largest provider of apprenticeships the army is proud to offer all education leavers the opportunity to better themselves while enjoying an army career.

‘It should be no surprise that, like most major employers, our recruitment campaigns applies some focus on individuals leaving school, college and university, as this is when they make career decisions.’

Metro.co.uk has contacted the British Army for further comment.

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