How can you identify a young person who is in danger of being radicalised?
There is no single way of identifying an individual who is likely to be susceptible to a terrorist ideology. Here are some of the things which can make a young person vulnerable to extremist views
- Lack of excitement
- Lack of sense of achievement
- Lack of purpose or belonging
- Lack of outlet for views
- Gaps in knowledge or understanding
- Sense of injustice
- Victim of race/hate crime
- Perceived humiliating experiences
Children and young people may express support for extremist and/or terrorist organisations but it should be born in mind that, as with adults, they may express strong opinions without understanding those opinions and may also express entirely contradictory views at different times. The expression of strong and even offensive views on a range of issues can be a part of growing up – testing what it is ok to say/testing out ideas/provoking reactions/seeking to create a distinctive identity and rebelling against adults. Consequently, a range of factors need to be considered when assessing the risk in relation to a child who expresses or is reported to have expressed extremist views.
Concerns regarding a child may arise as a result of the following:
- The child expresses strongly held and intolerant views towards people who do not share his/her religious or political views.
- The child expresses verbal support for extreme views some of which may be in contradiction to British law. For example, they may, from time to time, espouse racist, sexist, homophobic or other prejudiced views and links these with a religion or ideology.
- The child expresses intolerant views towards peers which lead to their being socially isolated.
Concerns may lessen where:
- The child is open to other views.
- The child loses interest quickly.
- They appear to have superficial knowledge of the issues.
- Their behaviour has not changed.
- The child has a range of friends who do not appear to share their views.
- Their family challenge their views and/or behaviour.
Concerns may increase where:
- The child has an association through family, friends and/or fellow students with members of extremist organisations.
- Friends or family have travelled to conflict zones, such as Syria, and:
- They went to support, or otherwise be involved in, extremist activity.
- There is no information as to why they went, or;
- Although the reasons given for travelling do not involve support of extremist activity, they lack credibility.
- The child appears to have an in depth knowledge of extremist ideology for example from known extremist texts/websites.
- The child has age inappropriate knowledge.
- The child has seen violent videos.
- The child refuses to engage or responds negatively when their views are questioned or challenged, for example, talking with fixed, scripted ideas that are unswayed and won’t accept any alternative views.
- The child’s behaviour has changed in accordance with the extremist views they espouse, for example, their dress has changed and/or they object to associating with people who don’t share their views.
- The child tries to enforce their views on others – for example advocating separate spaces on the basis of gender or prioritising space on the basis of ethnicity.
- The child’s friendship group shares their views.
- The child’s family seem unconcerned and/or supportive of their child’s views and behaviour.
- The child possesses materials or symbols associated with an extremist cause.
- The child uses insulting or derogatory terms for another group.
Changes in a young person’s behaviour could indicate that they may be in need of help or protection.
There are also general factors that may make someone vulnerable to any sort of grooming such as: peer pressure, influence from other people or via the Internet, bullying, involvement in crime, anti-social behaviour, family tensions and lack of self-esteem or identity.