An 11-year-old Muslim student who told his class that he wanted to give charity to the needy was referred to as controversial anti-terrorism watchdog Prevent after his teacher misunderstood the word’ alms’ for ‘arms’.
A legal challenge lodged by the parents against the school asserts that his teacher had asked the class what they would do if they inherited a substantial amount of money.
The primary school pupil, whose family portrayed him as knowledgeable and widely read, and who is said to be very interested in medieval history, had then responded that he would give alms to the oppressed.
In the past, religious people with financial means would give alms, usually, food, clothing or money to help the needy or less fortunate.
But the teacher is said to have panicked when they mistook the word ‘alms’ for ‘arms’, and referred the child to the anti-terror programme Prevent without getting permission before sharing his data with the unit.
However, police closed the case down after discovering there was no substance to it, no indication of radicalisation or extremism, or any threat to national security.
The parents are now taking legal action against the school and are demanding a written apology, damages and the expunging of the Prevent referral from the boy’s record ahead of him attending grammar school.
The parents also claim that the teacher who referred their son to Prevent breached the Equality Act 2010, alleging they applied stereotype about his racial and religious background.
The solicitor representing the boy’s parents said the case proves how dangerous the Prevent programme can be and asked for the unit to be scrapped.
Attiq Malik, director of Liberty Law Solicitors, told a newspaper outlet that this was yet again another instance of a fail by the Government’s Prevent Programme on vulnerable impressionable children, highlighting why the Programme was possibly dangerous and needs to be discarded as it just doesn’t work.
He said that in the current economic climate, teachers are scarcely equipped properly to carry out their teaching duties, let alone the additional policing responsibilities forced on them by Prevent.
He continued that criminal legalisation and safeguarding policies have always existed to protect the public and defenceless members of our society and that there was no need for a policy that was nothing less than the equivalent of using a sledgehammer to break a nut and thus unnecessary.
It’s astounding how misguided our teachers are these days, but on the other hand, should we be glad that there’s a system to prevent possible indoctrination?. But let’s face it ‘alms’ and ‘arms’ do sound very much alike, and perhaps the teacher should have clarified this simple mistake before running off to report it Prevent before this boy was being wrongly accused of something like that.
On the other hand, perhaps the teacher was too scared of losing their job, due to challenging a child of their Muslim belief, but of course, one more inquisitive question from the teacher would have prevented all of this.
Although to be fair, you can see how the confusion arose. The word ‘alms’ is an old fashioned term, and one that one would not necessarily expect to be used by a child, and you should never make assumptions with children, and a teacher who makes assumptions is a dangerous thing, and 99 per cent of readers wouldn’t know what ‘alms’ meant either, so there’s no surprise the teacher thought he said ‘arms’.