Given the current climate and the never ending chatter about Muslims, even the most vulnerable members of society, our children, have had to bear the brunt of a number of novel measures. These can only be described as knee-jerk reactions to a rather ambiguous and vague event concerning a Muslim high school student. It is important to note here that Muslims have been part of the public education system for decades and have been able to practice the most fundamental tenet of our deen, the prayer, without a fuss. But with the recent round of prayer audits conducted by high schools in NSW under the order of Premier Baird, Muslim students have been put under the microscope.
Below are some brief suggestions for what we as parents can do to ensure the well-being and safety of our children.
- Communicate with your children
We are living in a time when our children have to unfairly defend their deen from conversations being had in general society by political leaders and commentators. It is normal for children to talk to their peers about many things that concern them but whatever the topic, we as parents need to be our children’s first port of call when they encounter things they need further clarification on. It is crucial to maintain open communication with your child and to foster an environment where they do not feel afraid to come to you for advice.
- Be involved in your child’s school
We must understand that as parents and caregivers, we have the opportunity to be directly part of the school’s organisational structure, and that is through the Parents and Citizens’ Association (P&C). It is through this body that parents and guardians can come together to voice any concerns or issues they may have concerning their children and work with the school on activities within the school including policy, management, and development.
The school executive committee, either the Principal him or herself or the Deputy, must attend these meetings, and any issue that is brought to the P&C must be followed through by the executive. One must understand that the P&C is not solely a place to air grievances but also acts to foster amicable relations with the wider school community in order to meet the needs of the students in the best way.
- Speak up if something is amiss
If you feel that your child is being unfairly targeted, there are appropriate steps one can take to exhaust every possible avenue for a fair outcome [visit dec.nsw.gov.au for more]. Keep a record of any meetings had and who attended. You are entitled to bring in an advocate if you feel you need the support. Keep in mind the political environment in which this incident (if it is indeed of the nature of religious vilification) took place and try to frame the incident within this context and not in isolation.
Speak about it with others in the community, as the more we talk to each other about our experiences, the more motivated we will become to act together in dealing with these challenges.
Schools should be a place where children’s learning capabilities are enhanced in a safe and nurturing environment. Muslims have been part of the public education system for decades and have produced many individuals who have gone onto achieve their goals through education and in their professional careers. We must resist any attempt to vilify our children and policies that may be used to this end.
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