Teachers in British schools have reported extremist ideologies, anti-Islam views and conspiracy theories becoming widespread among children, according to new research.
Extremist views and conspiracy theories are quickly polluting the minds of young British students. The country's teaching community has been constantly seeking help, asking for adequate funding and support to tackle the problem before it festers and spreads across the English society.
The government’s approach to tackling extremism in schools is focused on identifying signs of radicalisation instead of guiding children on how to reject extremist thoughts and ideas, according to a study conducted by researchers at the Institute of Education, University College London. The researchers note that the findings revealed amid police warnings of a rise in the number of radicalised children under neo-Nazi and other extremist groups as violent and hateful extremism are on the rise.
“This research is a wake-up call for us all. We must make sure that every pupil is taught how to reject extremist beliefs and ideologies,” said Kamal Hanif, a member of the research team and trustee of the SINCE 9/11 group that commissioned the study.
“We urgently need to equip schools with the tools to teach pupils how to reject extremist views. Dangerous ideologies must never be swept under the carpet,” Hanid said.
“We must use the power of education to fight back and help young people stand up and reject extremism and violence. We need far more clarity from government about the need to have time in the curriculum for frank and open discussions about extremism,” Hanif added.
Some 96 teachers were interviewed in schools across England and the study found that over half of school officials had come across or heard children expressing views in support of far-right ideologies with up to three-quarters displaying Islamophobic and misogynistic opinions.
Moreover, almost all students used racist language with 90 percent believing in baseless conspiracies pandered by the far-right.
On the issue of approaching the subject, teachers expressed their worries over discussing such sensitive topics out of fears that students would react in a verbally abusive manner.
According to the research, a fifth of the teachers interviewed did not feel confident enough to hold discussions and debates with such students who expressed support for far-right views and conspiracy theories.
As part of their advice given to the government, the Institute of Education recommended that schools strengthen their anti-discrimination policies, promote opportunities for all children to hold open discussions and improve the teaching of critical literacy to help children understand the differences between fact and opinion.
In response to the publication of the study, the Department of Education said the research is an example of how confident teachers are in teaching about such issues related to extremism and that the government has provided a number of resources for schools to tackle the threat of extremism.