The FBI quietly rolled out “Don’t Be a Puppet” in February, a website that aims to inform students about signs of violent extremism so they can help authorities identify potential terrorist suspects in schools. The site also attempts to prevent students from being radicalized.
The site is being criticized by several big-name groups including The American Civil Liberties Union and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee who say the site will end up isolating Muslim students and increase low-tolerance, bullying in schools.
"The website is an effort to counter an expanding problem, according to the FBI: the recruitment, especially online, of young people by violent extremist organizations. However, since 'Don’t Be a Puppet’ went live in February, it has been the subject of increasing criticism and questioning media reports,” said THEJournal.com.
Specifically, the groups argues that signs the FBI says students should look for when reporting suspicious behavior are both too broad and discriminatory. The FBI warned students they should be on alert if peers talk about traveling to “places that sound suspicious” or talk in “unusual language.” Critics argue this kind of training teaches students to be biased against Arabic language in general.
Across the pond, the U.K. is dealing with criticism after pushing a similar measure focused on recruiting teachers to identify radicalization. Called “Prevent,” teachers at the annual National Union of Teachers conference voted to reject the strategy because they said it would result in relying on stereotypes to the disadvantage of students.
The union’s general secretary, Christine Blower, agreed that a strategy to counter radical behavior is necessary, but that Prevent is not the best way. Encouraging discussion, she said, is the best way for schools to reach radicalized students in the classroom.
Here in America, the FBI has yet to respond to the criticism.
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Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor