Science has long recognised that the brain continues to develop during teenage years and that different areas grow at their own pace. Young people’s brains are insufficiently matured to make serious, life decisions alone. This means that teens are likely to arrive at conclusions, based on emotion, (because of their developed limbic system) rather than rationality. Impulsive decisions in emotive responses may have serious implications for life chances and affect others in their families and communities. Schools and colleges have sophisticated guidance programs , delivered by experienced professionals , which are designed to assist young learners as they progress through life. Nevertheless, erratic choices will be made by some and, particularly, where they have been exposed to emotional influences.
Shamima Begum, a fifteen year old school girl and a couple of her friends from Bethnal Green Academy fled Britain for Syria to join Isis fighters there; Begum, legally and emotionally , was still a child. It is said that she was vulnerable at the time to malevolent influences because she was grieving her mother who had recently died. Now in a refugee camp, she has just had her third child , having lost two babies to illness during her stay in Syria. In an interview today, she admitted that it had been her decision to go to Syria, regretted the deaths and injuries to innocent people at the Manchester bombing and in all similar atrocities.
The ingrained instinct of politicians is to consider how any comment affects their career prospects and so Sajid Javid, an ambitious Home Secretary, immediately responded in Daily Mail speak that he would certainly prevent her return to the UK. There has been some back-tracking on this position since the illegalities of rendering a British citizen stateless were impressed upon him.
Stones and glass houses are pertinent, it seems. Neither Tony Blair nor his script-writer, Alastair Campbell , have faced a whiff of punishment for their actions in the de-stabilisation of the Middle East and the deaths of countless civilians across the Region in the past fifteen years. In an absurd satire, Blair’s organisation has received millions in funding from the blood-soaked Saudis to promote stability there. Blair and Campbell are regularly given airtime on mainstream media to tell us what is wrong in the World. Past lies and deceit are off the agenda in any interviews.
That this young woman has behaved foolishly and recklessly is beyond dispute; she recognises that and accepts the real possibility of prison on her return but is comforted that there will be those in her family to care for and nurture her newborn son. This young life has been deeply etched with tragedy and that she has survived is the stuff of ghosts, dreams and theatre; it is Orpheus and Eurydice , a powerful narrative of a return from horror.
It is time that maturity and compassion were shown to this tragic , young Briton.