500 school children needlessly sent for ‘deradicalization’ by government, teaching union claims
Authorities were also alerted to hundreds of patients and higher education students who were reportedly vulnerable to extremism, according to the Times.
Roughly half of those referred were assessed but did not require any further intervention.
Teachers are required by the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act “to have due regard to the need to prevent individuals from being drawn into terrorism.”
The measures also require local authorities, the health sector, prisons and police to comply with the rules.
Within the schools in England and Wales, 1,041 children were referred to deradicalization program ‘Channel’ in 2015, compared to nine children from 2012 when it was extended nationally.
In further education facilities such as colleges, there were 180 referrals from last year compared to five in 2012. Universities reported 76 students while the health service had 228 referrals in 2015.
The figures were released under the Freedom of Information Act by the National Police Chiefs Council.
Kevin Courtney, from the National Union of Teachers said the figures suggested the tendency of over-referring pupils.
‘Channel’ is part of the British government’s wider ‘Prevent’ strategy to tackle extremism and stop people from becoming terrorists.
In March, teachers voted overwhelmingly to reject the strategy, with concerns that it causes “suspicion in the classroom and confusion in the staffroom,” and disproportionately targets Muslim students.
The program has been considered a failure by teaching unions, largely due to some 90 percent of referrals ending without action being taken, according to the Guardian.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said the program was designed to “safeguard” children.
“Like safeguarding mechanisms for other risks such as child exploitation, vulnerable children deserve to have the support they need,” he told the Times. “Protecting those who are vulnerable and at risk of radicalization is a job for all of us.”