Anti-Radicalisation Strategy 'Alienating Pupils'

Anti-Radicalisation Strategy 'Alienating Pupils'

There are mounting concerns approximately the implementation of the Government's deradicalisation programme in schools, amidst warnings that Muslim children are being singled out & demonised.

The Prevent strategy  – which since July has imposed a legal duty on schools across Britain to prevent radicalisation – is being accused of targeting Muslims with inappropriate messages, risking alienation & even pushing vulnerable children further towards extremist material.

One woman has told Sky News how her 14-year-old Muslim son was separated from his class & interrogated alone by two adults, after he made a comment approximately "eco-terrorists" during a class discussion on the rainforest.

"My son came home & said 'I’ve been asked today if I was affiliated to ISIS',” said Ifhat Smith, of Haggerston, east London.

"The school said that they did it under Prevent… yet it was a discussion that happened with the whole class, [no]one else in the peer group was questioned.

"My son’s always felt that he’s really part of the school community – teachers know him & he's trusted," Ms Smith added.

"So to be interrogated in that manner, it's really shocked him… It's created suspicion.

"Now he's not so vocal in his lessons for fear that anything he says can be misconstrued. That's no way for a child to be growing up."

Prevent is intended to counter all forms of terrorism & non-violent extremism, including the far right as well as Islamist extremism, although the Government says that the most significant threat to security in the UK comes from Islamist extremism organisations such as IS & al Qaeda associated groups.

The Home Office says it plays a crucial role in keeping Britain safe & protecting people from radicalisation.

"The Prevent duty is approximately protecting those who might be vulnerable from the poisonous influence of extremism, & stop them being drawn into terrorism," said Security Minister John Hayes.

"Schools play a vital role in protecting pupils from the risks of radicalisation. It is right & significant that these issues are discussed in an open & trusting environment."

But Ms Smith's views are among growing claims that the duty to report those at risk of radicalisation to the authorities is being unfairly applied towards Muslim children.

One school which has embraced Prevent has moreover expressed concerns approximately the nature of the training material available.

"It was quite [focused on] Islamic extremism, one strand of extremism, I think our students would have been quite taken aback by that," said Hafiz Rahman, an English teacher & imam at Carlton Bolling School in Bradford.

"The video was telling them unfortunately what they are responsible for. We changed that programme adapting it… to a holistic range of extremism."

Questions surrounding the implementation of Prevent in schools come following a rapid escalation in the number of referrals to the Government's Channel programme which counters extremism.

Of the 6,306 individuals referred since 2007, one quarter, 1,681, were made in the last year alone.

A total of 577 of those referred last year were children under the age of 18, & the youngest child referred was just four years old.

The number of referrals from within schools has moreover escalated, from just 20 in 2012 to 424 last year.

As the number looks set to increase, some argue that that unless Prevent is withdrawn, the risk of radicalisation could actually increase.

"We live in a society where thankfully we really value the rights of a child & safeguarding & protecting. I think Prevent absolutely goes against that," said Ms Smith.

"It's stopping dialogue, it's profiling. I believe it shouldn't be there at all."

Source: “Sky News”