Protecting your child

Radicalisation and recruitment of young people to extremist causes is an increasing concern. Any child could be vulnerable to extremist narratives, although there are factors which can make some children more vulnerable than others.

As a parent, you need to be aware that individuals and groups with extremist views use the internet and social media to spread their ideologies. Children spend a lot of time online, and this has made them more susceptible to extremism, whether from Islamists or the far right.

Extremist groups tap into young people’s insecurities. They often claim to offer answers and promise a sense of identity that vulnerable young people often seek. These feelings of insecurity can become more heightened when a child is feeling:

  • Marginalised from society
  • Trapped between two cultures
  • Excluded from the mainstream

As part of their recruitment strategy, extremist groups also work to undermine the authority of parents. This can be particularly attractive to vulnerable children who don’t have parental guidance, or who come from unstable homes.

Extremist groups also use very sophisticated methods to trigger feelings of anger, injustice and shame that a child might feel towards a parent.

But it’s important to remember that any child can be affected by extremism. You can play a vital role by providing emotional support that acts as an alternative to the extremist narratives that your child might feel comfortable believing.

It’s not easy to talk to your child about the dangers of extremism, but as with issues such as sex and drugs, it’s necessary. Give your child a safe space where they can talk about difficult subjects. The more you talk, the more confident your child will become in challenging extremist narratives.

Resources

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

Expert information for families and schools, featuring carefully checked and curated advice and information on issues related to internet safety.

A website for parents, backed by the UK’s biggest Internet Service Providers, with resources and conversation starters to keep children’s online life fun and safe. It maps some of the most common apps available and highlights those that might create risky situations for children, such as unintentionally revealing personal information, stranger danger and generating large bills through in-app purchasing. It also features advice on apps that can be used to improve children learning and wellbeing to help them get the best experience out of the online world.

Support and advice to parents, with contributions from the leading experts and organisations in matters related to young people and families in a digital world. Parent Info is a collaboration between Parent Zone and NCA-CEOP. It aims to cover all of the issues amplified by the internet and can be recommended to parents looking for support on how to ensure their children keep safe online.