Radicalisation and Extremism

There is no single route to radicalisation. However, there are some behavioural traits that could indicate a 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 one of your students 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 students who are different
  • Becoming abusive to students 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 students well, so are in a prime position to recognise if they’re acting out of character. Trust and have confidence in your professional judgement, and get advice if something feels wrong.


A downloadable booklet for teachers about how to increase your pupils’ resilience to extremism, produced by Educate Against Hate.

Short films and classroom exercises to encourage your pupils to think for themselves and build their resilience to extremism.

Statutory guidance for local authorities and agencies working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in their care.

Non-statutory guidance on preventing children and young people from being drawn into terrorism for schools and childcare providers.