How could my child become radicalised or get involved in extremism?
Children and Young people may be vulnerable to a range of risks as they pass through to adolescence and adulthood. They will be exposed to new influences and potentially risky behaviours, influence from peers, influence from older people or the internet as they may begin to explore ideas and issues around their identity.
There is no single driver of radicalisation, nor is there a single journey to becoming radicalised. The internet creates more opportunities to become radicalised, since it’s a worldwide 24/7 medium that allows you to find and meet people who share and will reinforce your opinions.
Why could social networking be a concern?
Your child may actively search for content that is considered radical, or they could be persuaded to do so by others. Social media sites, like Facebook, Ask FM and Twitter, can be used by extremists looking to identify, target and contact young people. It’s easy to pretend to be someone else on the internet, so children can sometimes end up having conversations with people whose real identities they may not know, and who may encourage them to embrace extreme views and beliefs.
Often children will be asked to continue discussions, not via the mainstream social media, but via platforms, such as Kik Messenger, Whisper, Yik Yak or Omegle. Moving the conversation to less mainstream platforms can give users a greater degree of anonymity and can be less easy to monitor.
People who encourage young people to do this are not always strangers. In many situations they may already have met them, through their family or social activities, and then use the internet to build rapport with them. Sometimes children don’t realise that their beliefs have been shaped by others, and think that the person is their friend, mentor, boyfriend or girlfriend and has their best interests at heart.
What are the signs I should look out for?
There are a number of signs to be aware of (although a lot of them are quite common among teenagers). Generally parents should look out for increased instances of:
A conviction that their religion, culture or beliefs are under threat and treated unjustly
A tendency to look for conspiracy theories and distrust of mainstream media
The need for identity and belonging
Being secretive about who they’ve been talking to online and what sites they visit
Switching screens when you come near the phone, tablet or computer
Possessing items – electronic devices or phones – you haven’t given them
Becoming emotionally volatile
What should I do?
Talk to your child about your concerns and listen to their views and feelings. Allow open and honest discussion. Young people are naturally curious. Stopping discussion about extremism, radicalisation and terrorism is only likely to make it more interesting to your child
Encourage positive outlets for your child’s energies. Sports, clubs, hobbies, they all provide identity and a sense of community. It’s just a case of finding the right one
Share your concerns with a professional who is already involved with your child or family such as a school teacher
If you have concerns about your child relating to extremism and radicalisation, you can receive support and advice from your local police by telephoning 101. They will do all they can to help to prevent your child turning to behaviour that breaks the law
If the child or young person is in immediate danger contact the police on
999 (in an emergency)
If the child is not in immediate danger then contact Rotherham Children's Social Care Services to share your concerns.
Call the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 01709 336080
If the child is not in immediate danger but you believe a crime may have been committed then call the Police on 101