Surveilling (Potential) Terrorist Children


A news article entitled “Police identify 200 children as potential terrorists” illuminates a new state of surveillance in the UK. Police are monitoring children in Muslim communities who have been identified as being “at risk of extremism.” Teachers, parents, and other community leaders are asked to monitor children and adolescents and identify those who have extreme views or are susceptible to the influence of radical Islamic groups. Children identified as being ‘at risk’ are offered guidance in the form of a tailored intervention program.

I can’t decide what I think of this program. Is this program of careful monitoring and intervention a natural extension of the usual surveillance role of parents and teachers?

Is it a necessary precaution or an extreme policing tactic?




2 responses to “Surveilling (Potential) Terrorist Children

  1. I am not convinced that this sort of surveillance would actually do any good. The suggested tactic for dealing with the extremist children is hoping “that teachers might intervene, speak to the child’s family or perhaps the local imam who could then speak to the young man.” I hate to sound pessimistic, but I doubt such extremist children would listen to their teachers or their local, “westernized” religious figures. Perhaps there is the inclusive benefit of simply identifying these people as a threat, but, on the other hand, I doubt the British police have the resources to monitor every radical Islamic child in their country.


  2. In some regard, this tactic is only an extension of what types of surveillance are already in place in the school (and general social) system: a result of the carceral society. Teachers in particular (in Canada) are encouraged to monitor the children for any strange or “abnormal” behaviour. If the behaviour persists, they can make the call to report the child and their parents to Children’s Services based on their observations. It does, however, seem strange that they would focus so keenly on Islamic terrorists. Or are they merely adding new criteria to practices they already have in place?

    In Northern Ireland, do they have similar social monitoring systems to prevent “terrorism”? Seeing as they are now moving onto Islamic terrorists, my inclination would be that they are merely expanding upon the panoptic systems they already have in place.

    Whether these tactics work is an altogether different question. The labeling, ranking, positioning of a child in carceral social space may potentially induce the child to redouble their efforts in attaining a “normal” role within society. However, the child may just as become a “delinquent” with their view only reaffirmed by the potentially alienating process.

    – Alex

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