Youth, terrorism and education: Britain’s Prevent programme

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85 Citations (Scopus)


Since the 7/7 bombings of July 2005, Britain has experienced a domestic terror threat posed by a small minority of young Muslims. In response, Britain has initiated ‘Prevent’, a preventative counter-terrorism programme. Building on previous, general critiques of Prevent, this article outlines and critically discusses the ways in which Prevent has approached young Muslims and their educational institutions. The article argues that, rather than trust in broader and non-stigmatizing processes of anti-extremist education, the police-led Prevent has ‘engaged’ with and surveilled young Muslims. Within Prevent there is little evidence of educational processes that explicitly build youth resilience against extremism. Instead, Muslim youth are viewed as both a risk to society and at risk of catching the terrorist disease, with the contested model of ‘radicalisation’ and child protection concepts utilized to portray risks of exploitation by Islamist extremists that necessitate a deepening process of education-based surveillance. The article identifies non-stigmatizing alternatives to the approach of Prevent, approaches of anti-extremism education that learn from previously problematic anti-racist educational efforts with white young people. This enables the article to advocate for enhanced human rights-based approaches of citizenship education (admittedly, in themselves contested) with all young people as the most effective way of building individual and collective youth resilience against terrorist ideologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-187
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Lifelong Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2016


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