Protecting your child
Being honest with your child and talking to them on a regular basis is the best way to help keep them safe. Remember that your child’s safety extends to their online activity, too.
Discussions about sex and drugs with your child are awkward, but necessary. It’s important to talk to them about extremism and radicalisation, too. Giving your child the facts will help them challenge extremist arguments.
Extremist groups’ use of internet and social media has become a prolific way for them to spread their ideology. Therefore to help keep your child safe:
- Talk to your child about staying safe online
- Keep an eye on the sites your child is visiting
- Use parental controls on browsers, games and social media to filter or monitor what your child can see
Remember that even young children may be exposed to extremism online.
Trying to stop your child using the internet and mobile devices won’t keep them safe. Instead, teach them to understand that just because something appears on a website doesn’t mean it’s factually correct.
As a parent, it’s likely you’ll recognise factors or changes in behaviour before anyone else, and will be able to use your judgement to know whether your child is vulnerable to radicalisation. 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.
If you’re worried about your child, there are other people and organisations you can talk to:
- Speak to your child’s teacher. Have they noticed changes in your child’s behaviour? They will have access to specialists who can help
- Contact your local authority safeguarding officer
- The NSPCC offers free advice on their website – and a helpline, 0808 800 5000
- FAST (Families Against Stress and Trauma) is a supportive organisation based in the UK for vulnerable families and individuals