A 3-year-old child in London has been labeled a “potential terrorist” and placed under social workers’ care and police surveillance because of his or her family’s religious beliefs.
The unidentified child was one of 1,069 Londoners placed in an “anti-extremism program” by the British government, The Evening Standard newspaper reported.
“The three-year-old is from Tower Hamlets [in London] and was referred as ‘part of a wider family group’ that had been displaying alarming behavior,” The Standard noted.
About 300 minors are part of the program, called “Channel,” which is apparently administered by the London Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard). Most minors, though, are older children.
The idea behind the program  is to prevent children who apparently come from Muslim families from being “radicalized” into Islamic terrorists and recruited into organizations like ISIS, The Standard reported.
Children Labeled Terrorists
“The earlier we can intervene to prevent radicalization the better,” Commander Richard Walton, the head of Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command, told The Standard.
Citizens apparently are encouraged to turn in others.
“It is good that we are receiving more referrals, as it shows that the people of London understand the dangers of extremism and the need to speak out,” Walton said. “Everyone can play a part in keeping London safe.”
Persons referred to Channel are placed under the supervision of social workers, police and medical professionals.
Parents Could Loose Custody
Channel gives police the power to use Family Courts to strip parents of custody. The Standard reported that police have brought about 30 “care proceedings,” a euphemism for a custody hearing, against parents in the program.
There have been about 4,000 referrals to Channel in the entire United Kingdom, according to The Standard.
“Referrals to Channel have increased since 2014 but we have dedicated sufficient resources to the program to cope with demand,” Security Minister John Hayes told The Standard.
A Dangerous Precedent?
Channel represents a dangerous escalation in state power over families and children because it is the first time that national security is being used as a pretext to strip parents of their rights, critics say. Also disturbing, they say, is the targeting of families because of their religious beliefs.
And it could get worse. Under a new proposal by the UK government, nursery staff and daycare workers would be required to “report toddlers at risk of becoming terrorists,” the Telegraph reported. Current law does not make it a requirement.
“Senior management and governors should make sure that staff have training that gives them the knowledge and confidence to identify children at risk of being drawn into terrorism and challenge extremist ideas which can be used to legitimise terrorism and are shared by terrorist groups,” the proposal says.
David Davis, a Conservative member of Parliament, blasted the proposal: “It is hard to see how this can be implemented. It is unworkable. I have to say I cannot understand what they [nursery staff] are expected to do. Are they supposed to report some toddler who comes in praising a preacher deemed to be extreme? I don’t think so.”
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