What is radicalisation?

Radicalisation is when an individual or group adopt extreme political, social, or religious views that can lead to violence. This is why the term is often used when referring to those who carry out or encourage acts of terrorism.

You may not believe your child could become radicalised or involved in terrorism, but children of all ages can be influenced by people who don't have their best interests at heart.

What factors can lead to radicalisation?

Children may be susceptible to radicalisation if they are:

  • Struggling with their identity.
  • Isolated from peer groups or UK culture.
  • Recovering from a traumatic event.
  • Experiencing low self-esteem or family tensions.

Other factors like local community tensions and events in their region of origin may also cause children to be influenced by radical ideas.

What methods may be used to radicalise a young person?

Children may be influenced into adopting radicalised views through:

  • Online platforms – coming across extreme messages on social media or online gaming. For guidance, see our page on online safety.
  • Face-to-face – being influenced by those within a peer group or in the community.
  • Media – receiving extremist or incorrect messages through TV, magazines or newspapers.

What are the signs to look out for?

Some of these signs are typical in teenagers but it is worth being vigilant of:

  • Unwillingness to listen to or engage with those who have different points of view.
  • Quick conversion to a new religion, leading to a rejection of friends and activities they enjoyed.
  • Spending a lot of time online or on their phone, and being secretive about what they are doing.
  • Having several profiles on social media, using their own name or aliases to share extreme views.
  • Support or sympathy for groups with extreme political or religious views, who encourage illegal or violent action.
  • Accessing extremist literature or contacting those wanting to recruit to extremist groups.
  • Joining or seeking to join extremist organisations.

Trust your instinct if you feel something is not right. Some of these signs may indicate other safety concerns for your child such as child sexual exploitation

What can you do?

Support your child and help them stay safe. This will make them less vulnerable and more willing to come and talk to you.

  • Talk to your child about what interests them.
  • Listen when your child talks to you about their worries.
  • Have open and honest conversations about boundaries.
  • Know what your child does online – who they talk to, what games they play and which sites they visit.
  • Know your child's friends and their families.
  • Get involved in the local community with your child.
  • Encourage your child to develop interests and hobbies.
  • Know the warning signs that your child might be at risk.
  • Ask for support from your child's school if you are concerned.

If you are finding communicating with your child difficult you may find a parenting course helpful.

Where can you seek advice?

These organisations can provide information on how to support your child and help them stay safe:

You can also contact Surrey Police should you have concerns for your child or another.

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