The High Court has condemned radicalisation of children within British homes as no less serious than sexual abuse. The comments were made in the case of a 16-year-old girl who almost succeeded in her bid to travel to Syria to become a ‘jihadi bride’.
The girl had achieved stellar academic results at school but had wasted her talent by falling under the spell of Islamic extremism. She had been on board a flight to the Middle East when her mother alerted the police and she was returned home.
Her parents were given the opportunity to show their ability to safeguard her from malign influences. However, a large amount of extreme Islamist material was later found at the family home during a police raid. Both the girl and her parents were arrested and the girl was on police bail pending further inquiries.
Up to that point, the parents had given the appearance of co-operating openly and honestly with social workers; however, there was a suspicion that the family had engaged in the skilful concealment of their underlying beliefs and activities. In those circumstances, the relevant local authority applied to the High Court to take the teenager into care and remove her from her family home.
In approving the council’s plans for the girl, the Court was in no doubt that she had been subjected to serious emotional harm within the family home. Her parents had displayed a farrago of sophisticated dishonesty. Although it was the girl’s mind, rather than her body, which had been violated, the Court found that the harm done to her was of a similar magnitude, and every bit as insidious, as sexual abuse.