One of the most striking things about the case of the 3 missing girls, from east London who ended up in Syria, is that the parents did not have a clue. Everything seemed to be going as “normal” and then they just vanished.
According to the families, in a statement to The Home Affairs Select Committee in the United Kingdom, if the government had handed them the memo (instead of pupils at school) that one of their friends had gone to Syria, they (the parents) would have monitored them more closely.
Though I have heartfelt sympathies for what has happened to these families and their daughters. I cannot fathom going through such a thing. It must be a truly sickening, horrific feeling.
That being said, obviously, something was going on with these girls and everything was not going on as “normal”.
There are two eyebrow raising things that come to mind when reading the statements to the committee. Two things for us to learn from.
1) It isn’t the governments responsibility to make sure we know what our children are doing online.
2) Hindsight is 20/20.
Regardless of one of their friends being in Syria, these parents (perhaps even friends) should have known something was amiss despite the governments memo being handed to them personally or not.
Also, in hindsight, the three families believe that it is possible that they would have talked to the girls if handed the memo. However, given that it is evident that they did not know what the girls were doing on the internet in the first place, monitoring them more closely is probably unlikely.
“…the father of Amira Abase, 15, said she had never discussed an interest in jihadism with him but “maybe with friends”.
Hussen Abase, 47, revealed that Amira had claimed she was going to a wedding on the day she went missing, but instead secretly met up with her Syria-bound friends.” ~Guardian UK
What teenager has not lied to their parents and said they are going here when they are in fact going there? It’s standard teenage behavior for most teens and many people realize this.
I apologize if this seems harsh but this is a serious matter because it involves out children and people must learn from it. It’s not so much the parents that people should learn from but the events surrounding this situation given the very real threat of online radicalization that is going on in world affairs at the moment.
At the end of the day, people must take responsibility for themselves and their children. We cannot rely or blame the government for our failure to monitor our children online. Our children’s lives depend on it!
Without laying blame on these parents because I don’t know what goes on in their homes (and they may have done their best with their children), I will throw this bit of social commentary out there and it applies to everyone, not just Muslim families threatened with radicalization.
Society is a dangerous place in real life (IRL). Online is perhaps even more dangerous, but in a different way that can lead to a horrific real life problem. The fact that people let their kids free on the internet without being monitored is, in my view, tantamount to a child neglect.
It is at this juncture where society and law has not caught up with technology.
Would you let any masked stranger knocking on your door in the house to talk to your kids in their room alone? Then why allow your kids on the internet unsupervised? Is it the governments responsibility to visit you or send you a memo and inform you that there are bad guys in this or that chatroom or on this or that website who might be grooming your kids?
It doesn’t matter how old the kids are, their activities in real life or on the internet can be a threat not only to them, but to other members of the family. They can even be a threat to your child’s friends or co-workers.
There are any number of types of internet stalkers. Stalkers have 4 main objectives:
- Emotionally harass
- Criminally manipulate their prey.
A stalker can be any person:
- Someone you went to high school with
- Person you dated in real life
- Person you dated through an online service
- Coworker or supervisor
- Stranger whom you ride the train with every day
- Stranger who found your writing online
- Someone you randomly friended on Facebook
Add ISIS recruiters whose job it is to be online to stalk, harass or manipulate your children into joining them in Syria.
Being a parent means knowing what your kids are doing at all times, even teenagers. Let’s not fail our kids. It only takes one predator.
Some key things to look for with your children:
- Spending a lot of time alone on the mobile or computer, especially in the night.
- You find objectionable material on your computer.
- Your children are receiving gifts from people you don’t know.
- Your child turns off the PC or obscures the mobile from sight or refuse to let you see what is on it.
- The child begins to be withdrawn from you and the family.
- Your child is using internet accounts that you do not recognize.
There are a number of things you can do to find out what your children are doing.
- Talk to them regularly.
- Check caller ID
- Check your phone bill for numbers dialed that you dont recognize
- Keep your child’s passwords and check your child’s Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts. (not to invade privacy but to confirm no one is preying on them)
- Install software to track email, chat, websites, etc that are being used. A good program for your PC is “SpectorPro“. 100% discreet, they won’t even know it is on the PC. Mobile software that records email, chat, texts, etc for mobile phones is available. One such program is “My Mobile Watchdog“
If you suspect or find out someone is preying on your child:
- Treat them with respect. Consider talking to them. Communicate and help them understand the dangers of online predators (radical recruiters, sexual predators, stalkers, etc)
- Keep all recorded data
- If talking to them doesn’t do the job, contact authorities to investigate.
We all love our kids. Parenting is the most valuable job of all, even more than your professional job. Take the job of parenting seriously. Your child’s life depends on it.
“And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty.” ~Qur’an 5:2