Singapore—A 17-year-old self-radicalised youth detained since last year has shown signs of rehabilitation, including a marked improvement in his studies.
The teen, called Daniel (not his real name) in a story in TODAY, fared poorly in his Secondary 3 exam two years ago but received four As and a B in his N-levels recently. Getting religious counselling, he has also rejected radical theology.
Daniel was the youngest detainee picked up by the Internal Security Department (ISD) until a 16-year-old boy was arrested recently for planning to attack two mosques.
Indeed, the number of very young people picked up by the ISD for conduct related to terrorism is growing, accounting for seven of the 53 arrested, since 2015 .
Before 2015, the youngest people detained by the ISD were aged 20 or 21.
Recent detainees also include women who have been radicalised.
“As a result, the rehabilitation approach has also been adjusted to meet the needs of a more diverse group of detainees and supervisees in recent years,” the ISD said in a statement on Wednesday (Feb 3).
The ISD said that it is now paying more attention to the non-ideological factors that led the youths to radicalisation.
It will be focusing on developing critical thinking skills, mental resilience and a sense of identity and belonging.
Young detainees such as Daniel have continued with their education.
“This was assessed to be critical in keeping these youth motivated and focused. We have worked with their families, schools and other rehabilitation stakeholders to create a conducive environment to facilitate their studies,” said the ISD.
After he passed the N-levels with flying colours, his self-esteem and outlook in life have also improved.
The ISD said, “When he shared the news of his examination results with his parents during their regular family visits, he told them that he had always felt like a disappointment to them in the past, but now felt that they could be proud of him.
He also said that his excellent results would not have been possible if he had not been detained.”
At the age of 15, Daniel caught the attention of the ISD after posting defaced images of President Halimah Yacob and calling for her death at the hands of the ISIS.
Two years into his radicalisation, he was apprehended. At that time, he had just ended the third year of his studies in secondary school.
In detention, he has been tutored and guided by three volunteers from the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG). He has also received religious counselling and had sessions with a psychologist.
His family has been supportive of his rehabilitation.
The ISD is “cautiously optimistic” about his future.
“The path he has chosen — to be receptive to those trying to help him and to take ownership of his future — is a promising one if he is able to persevere and not veer from it, especially after his release from detention.”
But, ultimately, staying on the straight and narrow will be his choice.
“His progress is still very much up to him. ISD, and the volunteers who are helping him, can only show him the path to rehabilitation. It is his choice to stay on that path,” a spokesman for the ISD told TODAY.
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