SINGAPORE – Parents can play a part in preventing radicalisation among youth by fostering positive communication and observing behavioural changes at home.
These were some of the suggestions by two experts during a parenting workshop on Sunday (March 21) organised by the North Mosque Cluster.
The online workshop “Raising Harmonious Youths” was held to create awareness among parents and youth on the signs and symptoms of radicalisation and ways to prevent it.
The organising team included the Yusof Ishak Mosque in Woodlands and Assyafaah Mosque in Sembawang, both identified as targeted sites of attack by a local radicalised youth earlier this year.
During the question-and-answer segment, parents asked how they could effectively discuss sensitive topics with their children and also ensure they were not accessing negative and radical content online.
The speakers stressed the importance of acknowledging the questions youth in the family may have about radical movements and ideology, and fostering open communication about such matters to ensure young people are guided in the right path.
“You have to make time to listen to the youth’s concerns, whether (you are) on public transport, in the car, while watching television or having a meal. Communication does not mean it’s just verbal, it can also be non-verbal. Parents can notice if their children are behaving erratically from their actions even if they do not speak about it,” said Mr Ahmad Saiful Rijal Hassan, an associate research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS).
Noting how digital content pervades most aspects of life through multiple gadgets within and outside the home, Mr Ahmad added: “What we are seeing now is that global issues become local issues. So what is happening out there will affect our people here in Singapore. Building resilience and creating awareness will mean that young people are better protected from extremism.”
Mr Muhammad Saiful Alam Shah, also an RSIS associate research fellow, said one tell-tale sign of extremism is embracing symbols that have been adopted by radical movements, but there are other signs to look out for.
“If your peers, friends or children identify with such symbols, do not jump the gun but instead look out for further signs. For example, are they discreet in their activities or isolating themselves, spending too much time online? These are some things to look out for.
“They may start detaching from the family before going on to withdraw from the society, these are further signs of indoctrination,” he added.
The workshop was attended by about 130 parents and youth.
It took place after recent news of planned attacks by radicalised youth in Singapore and the second anniversary of the mosque shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15.
The North Mosque Cluster will be organising more workshops and educational visits for parents and youth to create awareness about safeguards against radicalisation, including a youth visit to the Religious Rehabilitation Group Resource and Counselling Centre next month.