Since the Paris attacks last month, a large body of work looking to understand the reasons why terrorists targeted France has come to light. We can learn much from these detailed analyses, not least of all the importance of remaining calm and considered in the wake of widespread panic. Our government's current proposals
to tackle terror, however, only create more opportunity to stoke the fires of hatred on both sides, and, crucially, embroil our children in the next phase of extremism.
Given that terrorism is essentially a movement which seeks to defy oppression, whether just in its quest or not, policies which ultimately make a vulnerable group of people feel subdued further are going to be counter-productive. A slew of measures proposed by the current government and which target children continue to highlight a deep lack of understanding even on this basic principle.
At the beginning of the year, the government hoped to enlist nursery school staff and registered child minders in the fight against extremism, through a draft directive
which wanted to make reporting on toddlers a legal requirement. The proposal was heavily criticised by education professionals, who expressed doubt at the ability to implement such a directive and disdain at the thought of effectively turning teachers and carers into spies.
The gradual deterioration of such policies, which must be in part due to the Paris attacks and other terror-focused violations around the world in 2015, can be seen today. A huge surge in numbers of people being arrested for terror-related crimes, including women and children
, is the latest development causing concern. Despite hundreds being arrested in the last year, only 39% were charged
with a terror offence. The police's heavy-handed approach, which echoes that of the government's, is stripping away the buffers of tolerance and understanding within local communities. And it is angering peaceful Muslims.
A Survation poll in April claimed that 4 out of 10 British Muslims believed the police and MI5 were contributing to radicalism. Terror experts are also warning that counter-productive policies will alienate passive members of the Muslim community and give them a reason to distance themselves from social circles and family units.
Emotional and physical alienation is also being encouraged within the home thanks to the latest set of recommendations, which would allow parents to confiscate their children's passports should there be a suspicion that they may want to travel to Syria to join extremist movements. A child who has reached this point is already a vulnerable child. If that young person feels his or her parents are using force rather than reason to communicate, and in doing so oppressing them further, that child has no incentive left to linger at home. What is forgotten in the creation of such policies is that radicalised youth are able to mobilise and execute propaganda and action digitally. They no longer need to leave their bedrooms in order to move. This means that vulnerable children unable to travel still remain a threat to national security, and to themselves.