In a case that demonstrated the counter-productive nature of policing schools, a boy is referred to Prevent after expressing political views that are likely to have stemmed from bullying.
AA was referred to social services by his secondary school because he was perceived to be on the path to becoming “radicalised”. In one of his Home Economic classes, the teacher requested all students to bring in meat or poultry, but AA said to his teacher in front of the class, “but government is banning halal meat!”
The teacher questioned why, and AA replied, “…because government hates Muslims”.
Additionally, AA would frequently turn up late for registration at school in the mornings, and when questioned by the teacher, he replied that this was “because of morning prayer”.
Bullying as root cause
However, the mother told Prevent Watch that AA had lied to his teacher. Morning prayers are much earlier in the day, and the real reason for going to school late was connected to him being bullied.
AA did not, however, want the teacher to know about this because he feared the bullying would become more severe.
Instead of approaching AA based his mother’s statements, the school believed that AA was on the path to being “radicalised”, and they contacted social services.
AA has moved to an Islamic school in Kent; the family had planned this before the school had made the referral to social services.
Prevent Watch are providing advice and support to AA’s family on this on-going matter.
Policing schools is dangerous
What AA’s case reveals is that his political views, rather than being challenged by the teacher in a healthy and open way in the classroom were rather used to infer “radicalisation”, leading to his referral to social services under Prevent.
Also, the fact that AA was encountering difficulties at school through bullying suggests that his ideas and views may have been influenced by these difficulties.
It is therefore critical that already existing mechanisms are used to support students to ensure their issues, grievances and ideas are addressed internally rather than being escalated via Prevent.
Schools and educational institutions deal with student violence and fighting, for example, without resorting matters to external agencies such as the police.
Safe policies already exist
We believe that especially in the cases of children, non- securitised and internal measures should be used in all such cases, without discrimination.
Failing to engage students internally and with the assistance of their families, increases the likelihood that they will move online in a bid to make their ideas and views heard.
In instances such as this, it is more likely that an individual will become radicalised, so that Prevent can cause the very thing against which it claims to work.
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