Wednesday, October 29, 2008

UK adopts “prevent agenda” to battle the threat of terrorism

In what the British government is calling its “prevent agenda toolkit,” teachers are being called on to monitor pupils’ behavior and inform the authorities—including police—if they suspect teenagers are being drawn into violent extremism.

Apparently, the original version of the toolkit only identified “Islamist extremism” and al Qaeda in particular, but has been amended to include far-right groups after complaints from teaching unions during consultation.

Some British teaching unions have expressed concerns about the onus put on teachers to decide what amounted to violent extremism. “…teachers are not trained to deal with radicalization. We're not spy-catchers,” a spokesperson explained.

I do have sympathy for this view, however, these are difficult times which require action from all corners of our society if we are to overcome the threat of violent extremism.

Our young people have become a target of extremist groups, who are seeking to recruit and exploit them. Schools have an important contribution to make in the battle against such groups.

I wish our governments would show this sort of leadership. It won’t happen, of course. Our left-wing teachers’ unions would never permit it, and Canadian governments lack the backbone to force them to do so.

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