A 4-year-old boy was threatened with an anti-counterterrorism program and referred to police and social workers because he did not know how to say the world “cucumber.”
Preschool staff reported the boy as a potential terrorist to the United Kingdom’s Home Office after he pronounced “cucumber” as “cooker bomb” and drew a picture of a man cutting a vegetable with knife, BBC Asian Network reported. The Home Office is the British equivalent of the US Department of Homeland Security. The boy and his family are Asian.
Police and social workers were called in to evaluate the boy in order to see if he should be referred to a de-radicalization program, the media outlet reported. Under current law, teachers and other school officials are required to refer students suspected of terrorism or believing in terrorism to the program.
School officials though he was referencing a “cooker bomb.”
“[The member of staff] kept saying it was this one picture of the man cutting the cucumber … which she said to me is a ‘cooker bomb’, and I was baffled,” the mom told BBC Asian Network.
She said she was fearful her son would be taken from her.
“It was a horrible day,” the mom added.
Alex Kenny of the National Union of Teachers told the media outlet that teachers are “scared of getting it wrong” – referencing not following the law.
“They think [the government] is going to criticize them if they haven’t reported these things, and you end up [with] the boy making the spelling mistake, or the boy saying something in Arabic — that then gets reported on.”
Hundreds of British children have been identified as potential terrorists under the law, which encourages teachers to watch kids for signs of terrorism.