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.


Internet advice for parents from Childnet International, a non-profit organisation helping to make the internet a safe space for children.

The UK Safer Internet Centre website promotes the safe and responsible use of technology for young people, and features a helpline for advice.

NSPCC advice on the dangers of radicalisation and details of their helpline.

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.