Vulnerability factors

Children from all kinds of backgrounds can become radicalised. Here are some of the common factors to look out for that make them vulnerable.

As a parent, it’s likely you’ll recognise any of these factors or changes in behaviour before anyone else, and will be able to use your judgement to know whether your child is vulnerable. The following behaviours are a guide and it’s important to remember that anyone can be affected by extremism:

  • Struggling with a sense of identity
  • Distanced from their cultural or religious background
  • Difficulty fitting in with British culture
  • Questioning their place in society
  • Family issues
  • Experiencing a traumatic event
  • Experiencing racism or discrimination
  • Difficulty in interacting socially, lacking empathy or not understanding the consequences of their actions
  • Low self-esteem

Any of these issues make children more susceptible to believing that extremists’ claims are the answer to their problems.

External factors play their part too, such as: community tension, events affecting the country or region where they or their parents are from, or having friends or family who have joined extremist groups. Exposure to one-sided points of view all contribute to the process of radicalisation.

Those children involved with criminal groups, or who have found it difficult to reintegrate after being in prison or a young offender institution, may also be at risk.

Resources

Online safety advice for parents from Childnet International, a non-profit organisation helping to make the internet a safe space for children. Whether you’re puzzled by parental controls or would like to know more about gaming, Childnet International can help parents keep up to speed with what children and young people are doing online. The website includes a whole host of useful ways to keep your child safe, from the basics every parent needs to know, to hot topics and emerging web trends.

UK Safer Internet Centre is a partnership of three leading charities, Childnet International, Internet Watch Foundation and SWGfL, with a mission to make the internet a better place for children and young people. It coordinates Safer Internet Day across the UK and provides support with online safety issues via a helpline to professionals working with children and young people. The centre has produced a range of education packs covering all year groups to help schools promote internet safety.

The NSPCC is a leading charity fighting to protect children from all forms of abuse. The website includes advice for adults worried about a child including what to do if you are worried about radicalisation and how to talk to children who might be upset by terrorist events in the media.

The FAST website provides support for families whose children have travelled to conflict zones or who may be about to plot, or commit, acts of terror in the UK.