13 Mar 2021

Parents and strong family institutions’ role is an effective mechanism in providing long-term protection and immunity in eradicating the prolonged threat of radicalization.

The news of a 20 -year-old teenager wanting to commit attacks on the Jewish community in their synagogue again attracted the Singaporean community’s attention.

Earlier, the Singaporean community was shocked by the news of a 16-year-old Christian teenager who wanted to carry out a violent attack on two local mosques. The two youths are currently detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and subject to a Detention Order (DO).

The teenager was found planning to carry out an attack with a knife at the Maghain Aboth Synagogue at Waterloo Street after a mass worship session.
He was driven by hatred and anger over the oppression of Muslims in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In addition to planning an attack, he also has plans to join the military wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades (AQB) in Gaza, Palestine, to oppose Israel.

The anger and hatred that erupted in this teenager have resulted in him planning violent acts. The trend of youths becoming radical by themselves is on the rise. Online radicalization among youths is now a major challenge to be faced.


Understanding youths’ psychology is the first step that must be taken to deal with the problem of radicalization among youths.

Adolescence is the age where individuals have a deep desire to try new things. At this age, youths are more energetic and often idealistic to change their environment and world.

If handled well, such an attitude can bring various benefits, but on the other hand, if not fortified or monitored, it can lead to negative things and damage.

Among the attitudes that are often found in youth is the attitude of taking risks. This attitude, mixed with the attitude of wanting to try something new, can fuel the desire to try what they see on the internet or social media.

Without proper guidance, teens can violate social and moral ethics. For example, an attempt to make explosives or an attempt to kill with a weapon such as a knife is a result from having the wrong attitude and ethics.


There is no denying that identity is something that youths often explore today. Finding an identity means that a teenager wants to be seen as part of a meaningful group.

On top of that, youths today often find themselves in a dilemma when faced with multiple identities. For example, their identities as Singaporeans and also as Muslims at the same time are often felt to be contradictory.

Many youths feel their identity is threatened by the elements that exist around
them. They also feel that other people’s identities conflict with their religious

If his search for identity collides with social media elements that give him space to defend the dignity or interests of Muslims, he may be influenced to do so.

For such youths, what can be done is to channel their desire to defend this in an appropriate container for example, by donating to humanitarian missions organized by self-help organizations.


Youths who become so radical on their own that they are willing to plan violent acts, have been influenced by a rigid culture and ideology of hatred. Such cultures and ideologies can lead to damage and instability.

Hate can be seen as natural in human beings. Naturally, human being likes one thing and hates another. However, a person should not be cruel or act inappropriately based on his hatred.

Likewise, those who act violently by killing and carrying out bombings all choose a very dangerous ideology of hatred. This ideology is proven to be deadly and severe.

This extremist culture and hate ideology have gripped the world today. Many wars, conflicts, murders and shifts involving human beings are rooted in hardline culture and ideology of hatred.
Hence, our children should be fortified from rigid cultures and hateful ideologies that can lead to violent attitudes and acts.

The trick is through the involvement of parents and immediate family members. They are the first line of defence in protecting children from falling into the trap of radical ideology.


The institution of the family plays an essential role in efforts to combat radicalization and terrorism.

Families are in a good position to preserve an environment that condemns extremist ideologies or supports terrorist activities.

First, families must educate their children with teachings and values that encourage tolerance, inclusion and build good relationships with others regardless of their ethnic or religious background.

Before children are allowed to enter the internet world, parents should also actively educate them about the online world’s dangers.

Secondly, parents should be good role models and ambassadors of kindness and love to those around them. A good and practical way to do this is to set an example of their kind treatment of fellow neighbours.
For example, when children see their parents sharing food or interacting positively with neighbours regardless of their status and beliefs, they subconsciously accept the signal as an example.
Parents should also be exemplary in abiding by the house rules they set with their children regarding the use of technological devices such as the internet and mobile phones.

Third, parents need to involve their children fully, even when they are young. They can create opportunities for relaxed conversations with their children. In this conversation, parents can include once a discussion about the importance of appreciating every human being.


The world today is moving fast. Parents and their children need to be empowered to embrace the future confidently while understanding the challenges and dealing with them well.

A strong family institution is an effective mechanism in providing long-term protection and immunity in eradicating the threat of radicalization.

The issue of youths becoming radical seems to continue to grip our society. This radical ideology covered by this extremist and hateful culture needs to be addressed with full attention and taken seriously by every member of the community.

Extremist and hateful cultures that can lead to violent actions should be kept away altogether from our children. If this fails to be done, it can have a significant impact on the harmony of society and the country. Let us continue to play a role and increase our awareness.

The attitude of being complacent and feeling that the threat of this radical ideology has subsided and is not serious is a misconception. Remember the Malay proverb that reminds us that “air yang tenang jangan disangka tiada buaya” (Don’t assume that still waters hold no crocodiles).

Source: Berita Mediacorp Singapore, 13 Mar 21