100 signatures reached
To: Amber Rudd MP Home Secretary
Abandon Prevent in Schools
Repeal and abandon the Prevent strategy in schools
Why is this important?
The government’s Prevent strategy, a centrepiece of its national counter-terrorism policy, is stifling the freedoms of children in classrooms across the United Kingdom and is counter-productive. It is leaving a generation of young Britons fearful of exercizing their rights to freedom of expression and belief and is counter-productive by driving children to discuss issues related to terrorism, religion and identity outside the classroom and online where simplistic narratives are promoted and go unchallenged.
Recent legislation in the form of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 places an obligation on public sector workers, including teachers and child care providers to report individuals including children considered at risk of being drawn into terrorism based on their perceived association with non-violent extremism. Yet this obligation is based on a vague definition of extremism that includes opposition to ‘British values’, and a set of prescribed indicators of vulnerability to extremism that include ‘a desire for status’ and ‘a need for identity meaning and belonging’.
Children in classrooms across the United Kingdom have been impacted by Prevent. For example, a 8-year-old boy was interviewed, without a parent or guardian present, and ‘cautioned’ for wearing a t-shirt with Arabic writing on it. Since the incident, the child is reluctant to return to school and is experiencing stress related health problems. A 16-year-old student with learning disabilities was referred to Prevent for borrowing a book on terrorism from the school library, and a 17-year-old boy who was questioned by police officers about his political and religious views after he was referred to Prevent for expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people. This 17-year-old student also discovered that the police had collected information on him without his or his parent’s knowledge or consent, and was told that this information would be held indefinitely by the police and may be used against him in the future.
Prevent is jeopardising the rights of children in the United Kingdom to freedom of expression and education in the name of counter-terrorism. We’re demanding an immediate repeal of the policy.
For more information on the impact that the Prevent strategy is having on children in the United Kingdom see Rights Watch (UK)'s landmark report Preventing Education? Human Rights and UK Counter-Terrorism Policy in Schools http://rwuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/preventing-education-final-to-print-3.compressed-1.pdf