There are so many topics right now that we are inundated with in our daily lives. More recently, the Manchester Bombing, the Finsbury park attack on Muslims and the London Bridge attack.
These attacks have been occurring since 1996 and becoming more regular. Here is a link to attacks going back to 1996; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40013040
There are many people who have very direct views on these attacks but, I feel these opinions and views have been made without enough knowledge or understanding about “Terror” attacks which, results in unfair treatment on Muslims in the U.K.
I have studied The Prevent Strategy and how, as a nation, we can help reduce the threat of these Terror attacks. A greater understanding of the threat and how to identify a potential threat or if someone is being radicalized is needed. The Prevent Strategy is Mandatory for schools and childcare providers to educate their employees and students and this will become more and more evident as time goes on. I believe that in no time this will become a mandatory strategy for all U.K residents and beyond.
The Prevent duty is the duty in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 on specified authorities, in the exercise of their functions, to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. Please follow the Link for the full policy; document https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/439598/prevent-duty-departmental-advice-v6.pdf
Prevent is one of four strands of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy, known as Contest. It was created by the Labour government in 2003 and its remit was widened by the coalition government in 2011.
The other strands are: Prepare; Protect; and Pursue.
Now, personally, I believe, no matter how many policies we read or documentaries we watch, we will not understand how we can make an impact to help recognize radicalization or be able to help fight the hate crime that reflects the fear of terrorism. The policy doesn’t educate people on how to take control of their actions in everyday life. I have written online Prevent training modules for organisations to ‘Tick’ of their mandatory training for new starters however, I do not feel that completing an E-Learning module and answering some multiple choice questions is sufficient for people to REALLY understand what Prevent is all about. We must talk, join together and discuss the choices we all have as individuals to create the knowledge and power that we have to reduce terrorism and hate crime. Training should be delivered, as there is no better way to reach out to people than to show, talk and put training in to practice.
First of all, it is important to understand that radicalization can happen suddenly OR over a period of time and there are, absolutely, warning signs although, sometimes these may be very subtle.
Teenage years are a time of change, a lot of change and this is a vulnerable time for many. We all know our children better than anyone else and are best placed to know whether their behavior is out of character. Have confidence in your instincts and seek advice if something feels wrong.
Some signs of Radicalization could include:
Your child becoming argumentative and unwilling to listen to other people’s points of view.
Refusal to engage with or become abusive to peers who are different to themselves, perhaps on the basis of race, religion, gender or sexuality.
Becoming susceptible to conspiracy theories and feelings of persecution.
Changes in friendship groups and appearance: young people may distance themselves from friends, both online and offline, convert to a new religion, significantly change their appearance or clothing, and reject activities they used to enjoy.
A change of online identity, including own social media name or profile image. This may include two parallel online profiles – one being the ‘normal’ or old self, and the other being an extremist identity, often with another name.
Spending excessive amounts of time online or on the phone, and be secretive and reluctant to discuss activities and/or whereabouts.
Further signs include expressions of sympathy for extremist ideologies and groups or justification of their actions, accessing extremist material online, including on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, possessing other forms of extremist literature, being in contact with extremist recruiters and joining or seeking to join extremist organisations.
Personal vulnerabilities or local factors can make a young person more susceptible to extremist messages. These may include behavioral or family problems, lack of perceived status or belonging, and involvement in criminality.
Underpinning the radicalization process is an extremist ideology that seems appealing and credible, often because it appears to make sense of the young person’s feelings of grievance or injustice.
There is usually a radicalizing individual who encourages others to develop or adopt extremist beliefs. The internet is increasingly being used to spread extremist messages, so young people often don’t meet this individual in person.
Finally, there is often an absence of positive, supporting factors which would protect the young person from radicalization – such as a supportive network of family and friends, a teacher who notices a problem and intervenes to help, or a more formal intervention process such as a mentoring scheme.
Knowing who you can turn to for support is imperative. Would you know who to turn to if you had concerns?? Probably not. Have you read the articles about the lady at the Manchester arena who shared her concerns with a security guard about a lady and her behavior was dismissed by security as just another racist?
Always talk to someone! Explain your worries and find out if they have noticed anything out of the ordinary. Hearing another perspective may help you decide if something is wrong.
Your local police force or local authority can also provide advice and support. If your child has not committed a criminal offence, you shouldn’t need to worry that you’ll get your child into trouble by speaking to the police or a local authority. They will discuss your concerns with you and suggest how to best protect your child. Some local authorities have dedicated officers who work on preventing extremism and they will be able to provide you and your child with specialist support and advice. They might suggest referral to the Channel programme – a voluntary government-funded programme which aims to safeguard children and adults from being drawn into terrorist activity.
If you think a child is in immediate danger or see or hear something that may be terrorist related, call 999 or the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321.
As a parent or a colleague in the work place, it is important to talk. Educating people is the best way to work together to prevent terrorism and radicalization.
It is valuable to discuss the risks and issues with your children from a young age, to give them a safe space to discuss complex issues and give them confidence to challenge extremist narratives.
As they become more independent, they will explore new ideas and push boundaries – teenagers are often searching for answers to questions about identity, faith and belonging, as well as looking for adventure and excitement. This can make them vulnerable to extremist groups, who may claim to offer answers, an identity and a strong social network. Because they know young people are vulnerable, extremist groups often target them – frequently via the internet and social media.
A number of young British people have travelled to Syria or become involved with far-right groups in the UK after being influenced online by extremist groups. You play an important role in helping to keep your children safe from the risks posed by extremist groups.
It is a given that social media often provokes, even encourages, extreme commentary and behaviour, but the menacing attempt by sections of the Brexit brigade to throttle dissent by threats and imprecations is a classic manifestation of radicalisation. This is what Mr Cable meant when he spoke of the Brexit jihadis of the future.
The realisation that anyone, from any community, can be radicalised, is important. It has profound policy implications. It confirms a new wave of analysis that views ISIL more as a gang of young people driven by the identity.
Remember though, radicalisation is NOT brainwashing.
Brainwashing is changing someone’s beliefs against their will. It is a well-worn trope of dystopian fiction, from Nineteen Eighty-Four to A Clockwork Orange, but it is arguable whether or not such a feat is actually possible in the real world. Even if it were, it would require a great deal of time and effort. Supposed examples involve US soldiers subjected to prolonged, intense mistreatment in Korean prisoner of war camps, or people living entirely within closed cults. politics of victimization than as a religious or ideological movement.
What is terrifying, is the idea that anyone could have their free will neutralized by nefarious agents of evil. But what is reassuring is that this means these young men have not freely chosen their path, for reasons they believe to be good. This reassurance, however, is false. Radicalization is not brainwashing and we cannot counter it if we pretend it is.
The problem is not a lack of free will but a more prosaic impaired decision-making. What should really frighten us about this is that the errors jihadis make are all simply versions of much more common ones.
To understand this, we need to start by accepting that even the criminally insane do things for reasons. In the case of the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, who believed God was calling him to kill prostitutes, those reasons are clearly the product of a deluded mind. But usually there is at least something plausible in the reasons people have to do wicked things.
For jihadis, the narrative is that Islam is the true faith and that it is threatened by a hostile, kafir world. Given that millions throughout history have died to defend their religions, we cannot dismiss those who do the same now as simply deranged. What’s more, living in a country with a lot of anti-Islamic feeling, there is plenty of positive reinforcement for their feelings of persecution.
The rest of us are not so different. Few of us have no reason at all to believe what we do. But what persuades us is usually more a matter of personal history and social circumstance. And once persuaded, we seek confirmation, not challenge. It is hubris to assume that we could never have followed a similar path to the jihadis if we had found ourselves at a young age marginalized in an apparently hostile culture with the promise of something more meaningful elsewhere.
Food for thought, huh?????