Why extremism is relevant
Teachers play an important role in keeping children and young people safe. They are in a key position to protect them from the dangers of extremist narratives.
You do an invaluable job in protecting students from drug abuse, gangs, neglect and sexual exploitation. Radicalisation has a similarly devastating effect on young people, families and communities. Helping to protect students from extremist and radicalising influences is an important part of your overall safeguarding role.
Children and young people are particularly vulnerable to radicalisation. Many teenagers look for answers to questions about identity, faith and belonging, and are in search of adventure and excitement. Extremist groups, whether Islamist, extreme right-wing or other, claim to offer the answers and promise vulnerable young people a sense of identity. Though instances are rare, even very young children may be exposed to extremism, both inside and outside the home, or online.
Many young people also spend a lot of time online which exposes them to additional risks. Extremist groups’ use of internet and social media has become a prolific way for them to spread their ideology.
It’s important to ensure your classroom is a safe space, where ideas and controversial issues can be discussed freely and openly. Encouraging such activities will help students challenge extremist arguments, by equipping them with skills and knowledge to explore political and social issues critically, to weigh evidence, debate and make reasoned arguments.