Extremely Safe Radical Preventions

Earlier this year we were involved in a research project devised by the University of Manchester Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice and a series of interactive drama-based workshops led by Theatre in Prisons and Probation to faciliate conversations about radicalism.

The project was devised as ‘a collaboration between young people, school staff, interdisciplinary researchers, and creative artists, that focuses on developing an inclusive and open discussion about how schools approach extremism that speaks to, and is led by, young people’.

The government’s Prevent strategy has been accused of being more damaging than enabling; acting as a mechanism of exclusion that represses rather than encourages conversation. It was fascinating to hear the views and frustrations of teachers and pupils in dealing with Prevent and Safeguarding legislation highlighting even more the need to “talk about this”.

Here’s the poem that resulted from these conversations:

Extremely Safe Radical Preventions


Who are ya?
Who are ya?
Who are ya?

Who is behind the mask?
Behind the hood?
Behind the veil?

Beyoncé? Banksy? Bruce Wayne?
Al Qaeda?
Or an American spy?

Famous or anonymous?
Stars on YouTube, Snap Chat, Whats App
Or stars on CCTV?

Exams, cameras, detentions
Lights, camera, action

Prevent, Safeguard, Detention.

Things have changed
Since Victorian times
You never had mobile phones, computer games

The rules have changed
Bullying moves out of the corner
Goes viral

Terrorists are here!
There!
Everywhere!

Safeguarding becomes a verb
Safeguard-ed

Safeguarding becomes a punishment
How do we safeguard someone
from being Safeguard-ed?

How do we prevent
the paranoia of Prevent?
Don’t tell Safeguarding staff the truth
or else, you will get Safeguard-ed.

Prevent-ed from speaking, sharing, truth
Safeguard-ed from speaking, sharing, truth

Can we… talk?
Who’s listening?!
Can we… play?
Who’s watching?!

Life skills and paying bills
substitute for terror drills
divide by common sense, multiply by fear
red, amber, green, numbs safeguarding team

File… label… report on…
Channel-ed into…
on report, on tag, on watch-list…
On alert.

Teacher term begins
with Live Action terror trauma
Bound by curriculum,
trained in fear.

Collecting circumstantial evidence
Year by year
Afraid to miss the tiny clue
Afraid we’ll miss the point instead.

I was just joking miss
Just a gentle poking sir
He’s not really smoking miss.
There’s no room to talk about this.

How do we
prevent Prevent
piling pressure
upon pupils, teachers, parents?

Pressure
upon peer pressure.
prevent peeling privacy
policing, profiling.

How do we
prevent Prevent
preventing
philosophical postulations?

But what is extreme?
That definition of extreme…
seems a little extreme.

Can we talk about this?

Can we… talk?
Who’s listening?!
Can we… play?
Who’s watching?!

Fighting for fun or fighting for real?
We cannot put the fun in fundamental
No jokes. No puns.
That’s elemental.

Feels like we’re being… Prevent-ed
In discussions about extremism
we’re… Safeguard-ed

Transmission of fear over reality CCTV
a crude monochrome crusade
Suspicion in hi-definition
Prepare for work, detention, prison

Who are ya?
Who are ya?
Who are ya?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *