Extremism & Radicalisation

Combating Radicalisation

What Is Radicalisation?

Possible Signs of a person at Risk

Advice And Guidance For parents

Combating Radicalisation

Why would a young person be drawn towards extremist ideologies?​

 

Young people, including those who are often otherwise well-behaved, high achievers at school, can be drawn towards extremism in similar ways as those who are persuaded to expose themselves to other risks, such as joining gangs and online grooming. Radicalisation happens both online and in person. 

Recruiters  will hide their true intentions and may spend a long time gaining a young person's trust. This may be achieved through the young person:

•  searching for answers to questions about their identity, wanting to belong or to deepen their faith.

• maybe feeling isolated, lonely and  searching to connect with somebody who understands them.

• being  driven by the desire for ‘adventure’ and excitement or a sense of belonging.

• being driven by a need to feel better in themselves and promote their ‘street cred’.

• being drawn to a group or an individual who can offer them a sense of identity,

 a social network and who seem to offer them support. Young people who already have contacts, such as friends or family who are already involved in extremism may be especially vulnerable.

• Having personal experiences of racism or discrimination that fuel a sense of grievance, or being influenced by world events which result in them needing to feel they want to make a change or difference in the world.
 

Most people do not go all the way to becoming  violent extremists. Something or someone might intervene during the radicalisation process, or interrupt it altogether.  That way the person does not get to the point of threatening or using violence, and may eventually reject their radical ideas. The active involvement of families, friends and the community in this process is very important



What is radicalisation?

 

It is not easy to be a parent these days. We love our children and we willingly sacrifice our time, energy and money for their well being and safety. But even with the best intentions many parents can feel quite overwhelmed by all the external forces faced by children in today's society and in particular, children can be most challenging as they enter their adolescence years. This is a time when young people begin to assert their independence and find their own identity and many experience behavioural changes that can often seem confusing and unpredictable to parents.


Therefore maintaining a positive relationship can sometimes be difficult as children grow and develop and seek something different from their own family.

Despite being in the headlines on a regular basis, many parents still struggle to fully understand what radicalisation is, the effects it has on their children and how to prevent and deal  with it in the best way. Some parents wonder if their worries are justified or if their child’s behaviour is really a concern. It is important to be able to trust somebody in a safe, confidential environment in order to air your worries and work through the issues you may be facing. That’s why Families For Life™ is here to listen. We know first hand the wave of emotions parents often experience from fear, shame, and despair. Contacting Families for Life™  can be the first step in getting the help or reassurance you need.

If someone is exhibiting one or more potential signs it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are definitely being subjected to radicalisation. However, it is important to use and respond to your natural instinct as a parent – Do not be complacent. If you feel that something has changed such as secretive behaviour act on this instinct to find out what has changed and why.

So what can parents do?


  • Let them know you are always there to support them and they can talk to you if they feel worried. Be calm, open, and non-confrontational so that you encourage them to share their ideas and opinions with you. Remember that you’re likely to be dealing with a vulnerable person who is being groomed or manipulated, so show acceptance for their views even if you don’t perhaps feel that way.
  •  Just asking children what sites, apps and games they use could be a great way to start a conversation.
  • Try not to be overly strict and ban all usage as they are more likely to hide it from you. Instead set rules that allow sufficient freedom for your child whilst letting you monitor what they are doing and providing clear boundaries. 
  • It is important to know who your child spends time with. Know who their friends and friends' family are and even suggest you meet them.
  • Monitor their internet usage. Do they switch screens when you enter the room or when you go near their computer?
  • Talk about identity. Reassure young people who may be struggling with their identity that it’s normal to have lots of different aspects. Letting them know you’re supporting them as they explore the possibilities is one of the most important things you can do. Make sure they know it’s all right to be confused and that they can always come to you for guidance.
  • Encourage them to take up positive activities with local community groups that you know are trustworthy. Check them out yourself beforehand. Encourage your child to show an interest in the local community and to promote a sense of tolerance and show respect for people from all faiths and backgrounds.
  • Talk to your child about what they see on the TV or the internet and discuss their views and explain how the media works and that what they see or read may not be the whole picture.
  • As much as possible, be aware of your child’s on-line activity and update your own knowledge. Know what social media and messaging sites your child uses and what is out there. Keep up to date; social media is constantly changing and evolving. 
  • Remind your child that people they contact over the internet may be pretending to be someone else or telling them things that are not necessarily true.
  • Help your child to understand the dangers of becoming involved in situations and groups of which they may not have the full information about. Teach them to positively and constructively question when they are unsure.
  • Parents also need to watch their children’s behaviour carefully, particularly for significant changes in attitude. For example;  young people becoming more secretive about their web usage, or hiding their phone and deleting messages.
  • Recruiters will often trawl social networks and online gaming platforms popular with children, often using profiles suggesting they are of similar age to their victims.

Possible Signs of a person at Risk

What are the signs that a person is at risk?

 


Individuals can be drawn into radicalisation by a number of ways and there is no single size that fits all. However there are some common elements in the experience of most people being radicalised. It must be remembered that just because a person may display one or two of the signs, it does not necessarily mean the person is  being radicalised. It is important that a common sense approach is adopted, whereby their circumstances and environment should also be taken into account. If there is a valid alternative explanation for the changes in behaviour, these changes should not be considered a sign of radicalisation.

There are no typical characteristics of a person at risk. However, a sudden change in behaviour could be a potential indicator. Sometimes those at risk may be encouraged by the people they are in contact with not to draw attention to themselves. Parents are encouraged to enquire about their children’s well being if they feel there is a change in their behaviour, In particular, when you observe:
 

  • sudden increase in intolerance of others by way of rejection of non-Muslims or different interpretations of Islam.
  • more argumentative or domineering viewpoints, being quick to condemn those who disagree and ignoring views that contradict their own. 
  • rejection of Western policies, democracy, and government laws and talk of conspiracy theories and a 'them and us' mentality resulting in increased social isolation. 
  • obsession with Jihadi and violent extremists sites and social media and downloading  or promoting extremist content.
  • obsession with death, afterlife and martyrdom  and apocalypse.
  • overly secretive online viewing – this being one of the core ways in which recruiters are  known to communicate.
  • perception of being a victim of injustice and grievances.
  • questioning of their faith or identity.
  • social isolation – losing interest in activities they used to enjoy, distancing themselves from friends and  their usual social groups.
  • altered appearance – change in style of dress and/or personal appearance.
  • abnormal routines, travel patterns or aspirations.
  • out of character changes in behaviour and peer relationships.
  • showing sympathy for extremist causes and glorifying violence.
  • possessing illegal or extremist literature.
  • advocating messages similar to illegal organisations such as “Muslims Against Crusades” or other non-proscribed extremist groups such as the English Defence League.

Advice And Guidance For parents

 

It is not easy to be a parent these days. We love our children and we willingly sacrifice our time, energy and money for their well being and safety. But even with the best intentions many parents can feel quite overwhelmed by all the external forces faced by children in today's society and in particular, children can be most challenging as they enter their adolescence years. This is a time when young people begin to assert their independence and find their own identity and many experience behavioural changes that can often seem confusing and unpredictable to parents.

Therefore maintaining a positive relationship can sometimes be difficult as children grow and develop and seek something different from their own family.

Despite being in the headlines on a regular basis, many parents still struggle to fully understand what radicalisation is, the effects it has on their children and how to prevent and deal  with it in the best way. Some parents wonder if their worries are justified or if their child’s behaviour is really a concern. It is important to be able to trust somebody in a safe, confidential environment in order to air your worries and work through the issues you may be facing. That’s why Families For Life™ is here to listen. We know first hand the wave of emotions parents often experience from fear, shame, and despair. Contacting Families for Life™  can be the first step in getting the help or reassurance you need.

If someone is exhibiting one or more potential signs it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are definitely being subjected to radicalisation. However, it is important to use and respond to your natural instinct as a parent – Do not be complacent. If you feel that something has changed such as secretive behaviour act on this instinct to find out what has changed and why.

So what can parents do?


  • Let them know you are always there to support them and they can talk to you if they feel worried. Be calm, open, and non-confrontational so that you encourage them to share their ideas and opinions with you. Remember that you’re likely to be dealing with a vulnerable person who is being groomed or manipulated, so show acceptance for their views even if you don’t perhaps feel that way.
  •  Just asking children what sites, apps and games they use could be a great way to start a conversation.
  • Try not to be overly strict and ban all usage as they are more likely to hide it from you. Instead set rules that allow sufficient freedom for your child whilst letting you monitor what they are doing and providing clear boundaries. 
  • It is important to know who your child spends time with. Know who their friends and friends' family are and even suggest you meet them.
  • Monitor their internet usage. Do they switch screens when you enter the room or when you go near their computer?
  • Talk about identity. Reassure young people who may be struggling with their identity that it’s normal to have lots of different aspects. Letting them know you’re supporting them as they explore the possibilities is one of the most important things you can do. Make sure they know it’s all right to be confused and that they can always come to you for guidance.
  • Encourage them to take up positive activities with local community groups that you know are trustworthy. Check them out yourself beforehand. Encourage your child to show an interest in the local community and to promote a sense of tolerance and show respect for people from all faiths and backgrounds.
  • Talk to your child about what they see on the TV or the internet and discuss their views and explain how the media works and that what they see or read may not be the whole picture.
  • As much as possible, be aware of your child’s on-line activity and update your own knowledge. Know what social media and messaging sites your child uses and what is out there. Keep up to date; social media is constantly changing and evolving. 
  • Remind your child that people they contact over the internet may be pretending to be someone else or telling them things that are not necessarily true.
  • Help your child to understand the dangers of becoming involved in situations and groups of which they may not have the full information about. Teach them to positively and constructively question when they are unsure.
  • Parents also need to watch their children’s behaviour carefully, particularly for significant changes in attitude. For example;  young people becoming more secretive about their web usage, or hiding their phone and deleting messages.
  • Recruiters will often trawl social networks and online gaming platforms popular with children, often using profiles suggesting they are of similar age to their victims.