Young People at Risk of Radicalisation

By Nikita Malik

This quarter we have been focusing specifically on how radicalisation affects young people. Much work has gone into releasing public statistics on the number of referrals of young people at risk of radicalisation made to the Government. Yet, little information is available to date on the success of their reintegration and rehabilitation. Which begs two questions: First, is prevention better than cure? And second, are we managing to cure these young people at all?

International definitions on childhood classify a child as someone who is under 18 years of age. Approximately 80 British children went to join the Islamic State since its creation – some of them, like the Bethnal Green girls, went independently. Others, like Isa Dare, were taken there by their parents, with no choice in the matter. What we have yet to understand is how many of these children, if any, have returned. More important is whether it would be possible, at all, to reintegrate them into British society.

Two years ago, my research illustrated how these children had been exposed to inordinate amounts of violence, and how graphic content was publicised and used for entertainment. This normalisation of violence has also been clear in the case studies of children who have been prevented from flying to Syria and Iraq from the United Kingdom, often by members of their own families reporting them to SO15 Counter Terrorism Command officers. Many of them had watched violent videos justifying grievances or calling for a fight against the kuffar (disbelievers), making such a narrative a reality in their minds.

When it comes to policies on reintegration and rehabilitation, a parallel can be drawn between these children and those exiting violence in gang communities. But first, we must understand the conversations that normalise extremism at home and in schools. Doing so could involve a similar model to the work started by Dame Louise Casey in 2012, when she interviewed troubled families across six local authorities who shared their stories for us to better understand the hindrances to their advancement.

The governments of Iraq and Syria have put children who have exiting Islamic State into jails for their affiliation with the terrorist group. For those children who have had no choice in the matter, a better solution must be presented. And we must think of one quickly, for the British children who may want to return to the UK.

cifically on how radicalisation affects young people. Much work has gone into releasing public statistics on the number of referrals of young people at risk of radicalisation made to the Government. Yet, little information is available to date on the success of their reintegration and rehabilitation. Which begs two questions: First, is prevention better than cure? And second, are we managing to cure these young people at all?

International definitions on childhood classify a child as someone who is under 18 years of age. Approximately 80 British children went to join the Islamic State since its creation – some of them, like the Bethnal Green girls, went independently. Others, like Isa Dare, were taken there by their parents, with no choice in the matter. What we have yet to understand is how many of these children, if any, have returned. More important is whether it would be possible, at all, to reintegrate them into British society.

Two years ago, my research illustrated how these children had been exposed to inordinate amounts of violence, and how graphic content was publicised and used for entertainment. This normalisation of violence has also been clear in the case studies of children who have been prevented from flying to Syria and Iraq from the United Kingdom, often by members of their own families reporting them to SO15 Counter Terrorism Command officers. Many of them had watched violent videos justifying grievances or calling for a fight against the kuffar (disbelievers), making such a narrative a reality in their minds.

When it comes to policies on reintegration and rehabilitation, a parallel can be drawn between these children and those exiting violence in gang communities. But first, we must understand the conversations that normalise extremism at home and in schools. Doing so could involve a similar model to the work started by Dame Louise Casey in 2012, when she interviewed troubled families across six local authorities who shared their stories for us to better understand the hindrances to their advancement.

The governments of Iraq and Syria have put children who have exiting Islamic State into jails for their affiliation with the terrorist group. For those children who have had no choice in the matter, a better solution must be presented. And we must think of one quickly, for the British children who may want to return to the UK.

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