Teachers get help in fight against religious extremism

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From September 1st, teachers and other people who work with children and young people can call an especially established helpline for advice on how to deal with religious extremism and radicalization. The Dutch government is establishing the helpline based on advice from special reporter Naima Azough, AD reports.

The report was given to Minister Jet Bussemaker of Education and State Secretary Martin van Rijn of Public Health on Monday. According to the report, people working with young people sometimes don't know how to handle polarizing and radical topics brought up by the young people they work with. And the workers often feel they have nowhere to turn to.

Youth workers are sometimes faced with bizarre beliefs and conspiracy theories from the children they work with, according to the report. A currently popular one among Islamic young people is that attacks, such as the one at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester last week, are staged as part of a plot against Muslims. And a conspiracy theory currently popular among Dutch children is that a photo of a Syrian toddler dead on the coast of Bodrum in 2015 was manipulated to raise sympathy for asylum seekers. According to them, the three year old boy in the photo is still alive and well. 

Speaking about such topics is often difficult for youth workers, Azough concludes. They worry about whether or not to report statements with such an extremist undertone, and whether they aren't falsely accusing children of radicalization.

In a perfect world, the youth worker will correctly assess every situation, and if they have trouble they will turn to a colleague or employer for help, Azough wrote in the report, according to AD. "But in practice, youth workers appear to regularly stand alone with their dilemmas", she concludes. "They do not feel supported by their employer. I call that professional loneliness." 

Azough believes that the helpline will help reduce this 'professional loneliness' as well as provide aid in a difficult situation.