NOTTINGHAM, England, June 11 (UPI) -- New software developed for schools aims to identify children at risk of radicalization.
Several companies are producing such programs before the July 1 effective date of Britain's new Counter-Terrorism and Security Act, which requires schools to act to keep children from being drawn to terrorism.
One program, developed by the United Kingdom division of the U.S.-based Impero Software, is being tested in 16 U.S. locations and five in the U.K.
The Impero program offers a dictionary of key terms related to terrorism, extremism and radicalization. It alerts teachers if students type any of the terms, including "YODO" (You Only Die Once), "jihadi bride" or "jihobbyist". Other terms such as "John Cantile" (a British journalist kidnapped by the Islamic State in 2012) and "War on Islam" will also produce flags. Any flagged content may be screenshot by a teacher. Even students may anonymously report issues to teachers using a "confide" feature.
The software is in line with the latest revision of government's Prevent strategy, published in June 2011, which states that schools "have a duty to promote community cohesion" and enact a "focus on provision for pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development".
Specifically, the strategy calls for "ways to stop children coming into contact with extremist views" and "help children's services work with schools and other agencies ... to identify children at risk of radicalization and take necessary steps to protect them from harm."
The Prevent strategy was first introduced following the 2005 London bombings to stop individuals from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.
In an opinion piece in the GlobalPost, Timothy McGrath wrote that some teachers or schools may more closely monitor students who, "by virtue of race, religion, nation-of-origin, or culture" are more likely to fall victim to radicalization.
Education consultant Bill Bolloten told the Guardian that the belief that signs of extremism can be detected in young children is unsound and that such technology may foster a climate of mistrust between schools and the communities they serve.
An Impero spokeswoman insisted that the software does not aim to criminalize children but rather prevent them from becoming victims of radicalization.
In February, three London schoolgirls flew from England to Istanbul and were allegedly smuggled into Syria to join terrorist forces.
The incident prompted concern over a trend of young women heading to the Middle East to join extremists, as did three Colorada girls in 2014. Some 60 British women and girls had traveled to Syria as of March.