Much to Britain’s, and in particular, the Conservatives’ shame, the UK fell in global rankings for child rights within a year, from 11th to 156th. The UK’s current position makes it sit among the ten worst countries including regions like CAR, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone. The KidsRights report notes that the UK could “do more to improve the enabling environment they have built for children’s rights” (p.5). The Independent reporting this appalling situation noted,
“Serious concerns have been raised about structural discrimination in the UK, including Muslim children facing increased discrimination following recent anti-terrorism measures, and a rise in discrimination against gypsy and refugee children in recent years.”
What has happened in the last year? Apart from increased prejudice and hate unlocked by a neocon/white supremacist-orchestrated Trump and Brexit campaigns, it has been a full of year Britain – and in particular the Muslim minority – has experienced the PREVENT Duty. The founder and chairman of KidsRights, Marc Dullaert, explicitly called for PREVENT to be “re-assessed” in light of the “increased discrimination” Muslim children face:
“…Muslim children in the UK face increased discrimination following recent anti-terrorism measures. Accordingly, the Index advises that counter-extremism measures such as the Prevent Strategy be re-assessed to ensure that they do not have a discriminatory or stigmatizing impact on any group of children.”
PREVENT struggles to contain its negative effects to the extent that even those who are cogs in this policy of repression are not spared from the climate of anti-Muslim stigmatisation policies like PREVENT perpetuate. The call by Dullaert simply adds to the cacophony of criticism against PREVENT, the severest of all being that it is leading to child abuse and increasing anti-Muslim discrimination of children. In doing so, PREVENT itself discredits the already vacuous and historically revisionist claim that PREVENT is “safeguarding”.
As I have drawn attention to in the past on this blog, those mainly Muslim children that are processed through PREVENT exhibit signs of psychological child abuse as defined by the UK government. There is more than an indication that PREVENT is causing harm to the esteem and mental health of young Muslim children.
Last year, the discussion on how PREVENT was beginning to impact the rights of the child started to gain momentum. In January, the Institute of Race Relations issued a report looking at the impact on children from the context of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Another report concluded that the “flawed strategy” is a “systematic breach of children’s human rights in the school setting”. These rights include,
- Freedom of religion,
- The right to privacy,
- The right to freedom from discrimination,
- The fundamental principle that actions taken in relation to children must treat the child’s best interests as a primary consideration.
The situation has now moved beyond the classroom and sanity, as Muslim children are snatched away from their parents in the family courts, with decisions utilising the PREVENT framework which itself is premised on the fundamentally flawed, woefully inapplicable and academically lambasted ERG22+ theory.
Little light has yet been caste on the psychological and emotional harm this dangerous trend will result in.
Indeed, established research shows that children suffer immense trauma when they are forcibly separated from their parents. Such children are said to exhibit self-blaming, helplessness, hopelessness, low self-esteem, chronic depression and self-harm. Extending into later stages of their lives, separation may result in difficulty in maintaining relationships and also detrimentally impact their ability to care for their own children, thus making the trauma transgenerational.
Despite this child abuse born of PREVENT, Muslim children continue to be subjected to it. Moreover, the reigning neocon regime ploughs on ahead with the counter-extremism strategy developing it, institutionalising it, entrenching it.
The Conservative Party has already pledged to establish a thought-policing “Commission for Countering Extremism” with the blurb, like Donald Trump’s counter-terrorism policy, giving special focus on Muslims. There are problems with this proposal of course. The Office for Counter Terrorism bases its work around a legal definition of terrorism. Parliament has manifestly struggled to define “extremism”. However, given that the Home Office already has the controversial Extremism Analysis Unit, and that linked media and political groundwork has already been established in the context of “extremism”, there is little doubt that the Conservatives will be pushing this proposal through. Theresa May will also be implementing the white supremacist screed of intimidation on “integration”, targeting the Muslim minority with more mind-control projects.
We will, in other words, witness the ratification of the Orwellian thought-policing state where neocons will dictate to people which of their beliefs are permissible. Given the anti-Muslim focus on the Muslim minority, the micro-level trauma being experienced by Muslim children will continue to be propagated wholesale through to communities.
Muslims must urgently ponder the implications of this policy. How will our children, brainwashed and traumatised by PREVENT, subjected to its abuse, and resultantly suffering from a loss in confidence in asserting religiously indigenous responses and viewpoints, become effective actors in contributing positively to local communities? How will they shape their narratives through a strong Islamic identity and share its fruits with broader society?
For Muslims, it is imperative that they understand the need to oppose PREVENT and actively work with organisations like CAGE, Prevent Watch and Mend to dismantle it socially and institutionally.
This is not simply a matter of objecting to a policy. It is about preserving the future of Muslims.
 Carr, A., The Handbook of Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychology: A Contextual Approach, Routledge, Oxon, 2016, p.890