The Guardian is reporting that nursery workers are being urged to be on the lookout for signs of radicalisation in parents amid concern about families leaving Britain to travel to Syria.
The National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said nurseries played a vital role in teaching tolerance of different faiths and backgrounds to children in their most formative years.
But according to the NDNA chief executive, Purnima Tanuku, nursery staff also have a responsibility to be vigilant and report any concerns they may have about the behaviour of parents or children.
Tanuku’s comments follow the recent appearance in an Islamic State propaganda video of a young child speaking in English. A London man has claimed the child is his grandson, born to his daughter who converted to Islam and travelled to Syria several years ago. There have been other reports of families with young children leaving Britain to set up home in Syria.
Tanuku, whose organisation represents more than 5,500 nurseries across the UK, said a nursery’s first duty was to keep a child safe, which included being safe from “the harmful influences of radical thinking or any threat to their liberty”.
She continued: “When nurseries were included in the Prevent Duty legislation alongside schools and colleges last year, there was some scepticism. How could children so young become involved in terrorism? How could you influence a baby?
“Yet we have seen children of all ages taken with parents to fight against the values we hold dear. This is why it is crucial that pre-school children are given a positive experience of a life of freedom – where people’s views, customs and religions are respected and differences are celebrated. A child’s nursery worker is well placed to teach them tolerant values during these delicate, sensitive and formative years…”
What do you make of these calls from Purnima Tanuku and the NDNA for nursery staff to look out for signs of radicalisation in parents?
She suggests they are uniquely placed to do so as they tend to have closer relationships with parents than schools do – fair point?
Please give us your reactions in the comments or via Twitter…
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