Expert rejects that kids of ISIL fighters are ticking bombs
The debate surrounding Norwegian kids of ISIL fighters must be normalised and demystified, urges expert on extremism. He asserts that the Norwegian child welfare service is up to the task. Also, small children are not ticking bombs.
“You must take into account that it includes few children – primarily toddlers. These are children who have not attended kindergarten or school. It’s about children who need to be integrated,” special advisor and psychologist Lars Lyster states. Lyster is affiliated with Regional Resource Center on violence, traumatic stress & suicide prevention, region East (RVTS East).
Lyster is an expert on the prevention of radicalization and violent extremism. RVTS East is responsible for parts of the Government’s action plan against radicalization and violent extremism. That includes the follow-up of foreign fighters and their families.
He believes that Norway’s most important priority right now is to conduct planning and preparation. This applies both when the children return and when their parents have ended their sentencing. The follow-up of the children and families is crucial regarding prevention and integration.
The EU is planning
There have recently been international professional meetings in Rome under the auspices of the EU where exactly the children’s situation was the main theme. Lyster participated on behalf of Norway. It was informed about how countries are preparing for the return of grownup citizens and their children.
The Netherlands has been serious about it. The country has already mapped near to all children with an affiliation who have been in former ISIL controlled areas. It has planned measures for when the children return and mapped the resources of the extended families.
“Most of them are under the age of five. Virtually none of them have been in a situation where they have been offered arms training or been subjected to education in ideology. Part of the fear is thus unfounded, the psychologist believes.
He adds that there is no earthly reason to worry about that children between one and three years of age will come home as extremists or pose a threat.
“The way we care for, meet and include the children is crucial to how well they are to be integrated into Norwegian society,” Lyster continues.
Forty Norwegian ISIL kids
Norwegian Police (PST) has estimated that it is around forty Norwegian children in Syria, where one or both parents have an association with ISIL. Norwegian media have mapped eighteen of them. All of them are currently in the al-Hol detention camp in Kurdish areas in the east of Syria. Most of them are very young children.
The situation for the Norwegian children has created a conflict between the government parties. So far, the view is that orphaned Norwegian children can be repatriated. Prime Minister Erna Solberg has not closed the door to repatriate other children as well, but only if the parents will let go of them.
Lyster believes that the support agencies and the competence centre structure in Norway can safeguard the children.
RVTS has national responsibility for supporting and guiding municipalities and auxiliary bodies when it comes to children of foreign fighters. The children will have had very different experiences and thus symptoms.
Not ticking bombs
The psychologist rejects that there are «ticking bombs» or that there are treatment methods for this in psychological terms.
“Many of the labels that we attach to these children are governed by fear, ignorance, and lack of information,” he explains.
“There is little to suggest that the young children who return have been indoctrinated. If there are indeed any such children, there is treatment available. It will be the same kind of treatment applied to children who have left extreme sects or other extremist organisations, ” Lyster concludes.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today