Since the story of the three teenage schoolgirls leaving the UK to join ISIS broke, my organisation Inspire has been contacted by worried parents fearing their children could also be taken in by extremist ideology and leave the UK for ISIS territory.
This is a new challenge for many parents. Having visited mothers from across Britain as part of the ‘Making A Stand campaign’, many parents understand the fundamental role they play in protecting their children from extremists, who prey on young people through a twin process of radicalisation and grooming.
Following extensive media reporting, it is understandable that some parents fear their children may use the school break as an opportunity to leave their families and join ISIS. You, as parents, play an important role in educating children and you can make a real difference. Often what young people need to hear is a different argument, countering the extremists’ perverse political and religious worldview.
This kind of travel remains proportionally small – and for most very unlikely – but if you are at all concerned then our advice to parents is:
- Don’t be afraid to talk to your children about ISIS. Ask open ended questions to gauge what their views are. Do not shy away from raising this issue; children will certainly have views as it is being reported on the news everyday.
- Understand the key arguments so you can recognise any extreme interpretations of Islam and counter them. ISIS use Qur’anic verses out of context to justify their brutal actions to try and appeal to youngsters, so educate your children about the Qur’an and what Islam ultimately stands for. We at Inspire believe families are the first line of defence against radicalisation and our website has many links that can help as well as a selection of key links below.
- Consider contacting a trusted Imam, family member, teacher, or friend you know your child trusts that would be willing and able to talk to them in more detail about any concerns or questions they may have.
- You may want to signpost your child to the recently published online magazine Haqiqah that goes into some of the key arguments against ISIS in more detail and is written by scholars and Imams from around the UK.
- If you have concerns that your child is seriously considering travelling to Syria or Iraq, we would recommend that you check your child’s passport is in your possession. We would also advise you to contact the police if you believe travel is imminent.
We understand these are worrying times for parents, but you should remember that for the majority of families there is nothing to worry about, and that if we talk openly with our children then we can protect them and keep them safe.
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