By Patrick Wood
A new helpline is being launched in Australia today to support parents of troubled Muslim youths.
The free service will be run by trained Muslim counsellors and aims to address issues such as bullying, drug and alcohol abuse, and even radicalisation.
The helpline’s founder, Kuranda Seyit, said it would offer a more focused service than others available to the general community.
“This is unique,” he said.
“We have so many issues now facing our youth, and it’s easy to blame parents but they need support, they need the tools and encouragement to deal with their children in a pragmatic and rational way.”
An accompanying website, IslamiCare, has also been established to help Australian Muslim families who were “experiencing difficulties in a modern world”.
“In a society where young Muslims are being surrounded by negative portrayal of their religion and facing issues that they may not yet understand, IslamiCare aims to use Islamic fundamentals as tools to find solutions,” the IslamiCare website reads.
“The lack of understanding of their cultural issues from mainstream service providers [is] also a challenge and this is where we try to fit in.”
Mr Seyit said all counsellors who answered calls on the new helpline were experienced in dealing with youth and families and would be given intensive training for the job.
He said there were a wide range of issues that could trouble Muslim youths, including identity, and identifying possible radicalisation was just one part of the program.
“One module of the training involves actually identifying those issues around radicalisation and extremism, changes in behaviour, religiosity — things like that,” he said.
“So if those types of calls are taken, we will have not just the training, but we’ll also have the referral services and intervention if necessary.
“That will be one aspect of the website and the helpline.”
We can address the generation gap
About a third of Australian Muslims were born in Australia, but Mr Seyit said the helpline could be particularly supportive for migrant families who have arrived more recently.
“There is still a large amount of migrant families that come from migrant backgrounds still struggling with acclimatising to Australia,” he said.
“I think that generation gap still exists between their teenage children, and definitely I think that the parents are the key to a lot of the problems the youth are facing.
“So we need to support the parents through this helpline, because sometimes, they just don’t know how to talk to their kids or what are some of the issues facing them.
“Having that supportive ear can make a big difference in their lives.”
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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