The UK government has outlined plans to require nurseries to hand over details of toddlers they think may have terrorist tendencies it has been reported.
Over the years, the reports of terrorists targeting different countries around the world – with France hitting the headlines recently – has led to a raft of new laws, purportedly aimed at reducing terrorism.
However, despite the fact that none of those reported incidents were carried out by toddlers, the government wants nurseries to report them anyway.
A consultation document by the Home Office on ways to enhance the UK’s anti-terrorism system, the so-called ‘Prevent’ strategy, calls for senior management and governors to “assess the risk of pupils being drawn into terrorism,” manifested through youths’ extremist ideas that may breed terrorist ideology”.
However, the definition of pupils does not just extend to teenagers or high school pupils. The document goes on to state that even nurseries should ensure that their staff have proper training.
In an interview with the Independent, a government spokesperson said: “Schools, including nurseries, have a duty of care to their pupils and staff. The new duty in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism will be seen in a similar way to their existing safeguarding responsibilities.”
It is not yet clear how these new directives would be implemented.
Campaigners and charities have criticised the move, calling it heavy-handed.
Isabella Sankey, the policy director at Liberty, told the Telegraph: “Turning our teachers and childminders into an army of involuntary spies will not stop the terrorist threat.
“It will sow seeds of mistrust, division and alienation from an early age.”
However, the government claims that requiring teachers to spy on toddlers and monitor their views is necessary to prevent terrorism.
A government spokesperson added: “We are not expecting teachers and nursery workers to carry out unnecessary intrusion into family life but we do expect them to take action when they observe behaviour of concern. It is important that children are taught fundamental British values in an age-appropriate way.”
The Prevent strategy aims to get people at the pre-criminal stage and take action against them before they commit any crimes.
Of course, there are many who claim that in light of some of the reported terrorist attacks in France and Nigeria lately, this tactic is necessary to combat criminal tendencies.
However, it must be remembered, that David Cameron, along with Theresa May recently classified those who distrust the government or those who the government deems ‘conspiracy theorists’ will also be classified as terrorists.
We covered this in great detail in this story HERE.
In fact, terrorist legislation can be expanded to include pretty much anyone who the authorities deem it fit to target.
It harks right back to Orwell’s 1984, a fictional story in which children were encouraged to spy on their parents.
Furthermore, we have already seen examples in the UK where people have been arrested under anti-terrorism legislation for putting the wrong bins out, or writing angry emails about David Cameron closing the local sports centre.
However, now it appears that even two and three year olds are not immune from coming under the scrutiny of the anti-terror police.
Even if you do think that some people are born to be terrorists, where exactly do we draw the line?
Five year olds? Two year olds? Newborns?
And what guarantee is there that it will not be misused against children who simply display a healthy scepticism for the status quo? Or those who disagree with government policy?
Essentially, it will not only give schools one more tool to keep children compliant and under surveillance, it may even result in even more distrust of the widely criticised social services, if it results in children being taken away from perfectly stable homes.
As of the time this article was published, there have currently been no reports of two year olds dropping bombs on buildings.
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