Signs of radicalisation

There is no single route to radicalisation. However, there are some behavioural traits that could indicate that your child has been exposed to radicalising influences.

Radicalisation in children can happen over a long period of time. In some cases it is triggered by a specific incident or news item and can happen much quicker. Sometimes there are clear warning signs of radicalisation, in other cases the changes are less obvious.

The teenage years are a time of great change and young people often want to be on their own, easily become angry and often mistrust authority. This makes it hard to differentiate between normal teenage behaviour and attitude that indicates your child may have been exposed to radicalising influences.

The following behaviours listed here are intended as a guide to help you identify possible radicalisation:

Outward appearance

  • Becoming increasingly argumentative
  • Refusing to listen to different points of view
  • Unwilling to engage with children who are different
  • Becoming abusive to children who are different
  • Embracing conspiracy theories
  • Feeling persecuted
  • Changing friends and appearance
  • Distancing themselves from old friends
  • No longer doing things they used to enjoy
  • Converting to a new religion
  • Being secretive and reluctant to discuss their whereabouts
  • Sympathetic to extremist ideologies and groups

Online behaviour

  • Changing online identity
  • Having more than one online identity
  • Spending a lot of time online or on the phone
  • Accessing extremist online content
  • Joining or trying to join an extremist organisation

You know your child better than anyone, so trust your instincts if something feels wrong. You are in the best position to notice if they’re acting out of character.


A downloadable booklet for parents with information about extremism and radicalisation, produced by Educate Against Hate.

Tips and advice to help parents keep up with their children’s online activity.

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.

A London Borough of Tower Hamlets webpage covering the precautions parents can take to protect children from extremism.