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We're here to protect children from harm. It can be hard to know when extreme views become something dangerous. And the signs of radicalisation aren't always obvious.
It might be nothing, it might be something. But whatever you're worried about, we're here - call us free on 0808 800 5000.
Spotting signs and getting help
Radicalisation can be really difficult to spot. Signs that may indicate a child is being radicalised include:
- isolating themselves from family and friends
- talking as if from a scripted speech
- unwillingness or inability to discuss their views
- a sudden disrespectful attitude towards others
- increased levels of anger
- increased secretiveness, especially around internet use.
Children who are at risk of radicalisation may have low self-esteem, or be victims of bullying or discrimination. Extremists might target them and tell them they can be part of something special, later brainwashing them into cutting themselves off from their friends and family.
However, these signs don't necessarily mean a child is being radicalised – it may be normal teenage behaviour or a sign that something else is wrong. If you notice any change in a child's behaviour and you're worried, you can call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000
Get support from our helplines
Through our helpline, we're providing help and support to adults worried about the radicalisation of a child. This may mean listening to their fears, helping them recognise the warning signs, or highlighting local support services that are available.
We're also letting children know that they can contact Childline if they're worried that they're being influenced by other people, or if they're worried about terrorism.
Our helplines offer a safe, non-judgmental space where adults and children can talk to us confidentially. However, if a child was thought to be at significant risk of harm, we would alert the appropriate authorities, as we would in any case where a child's safety is in serious question.
Talking about terrorism: tips for parents
Children are exposed to news in many ways, and what they see can worry them. Our advice can help you have a conversation with your child:
- listen carefully to a child’s fears and worries
- offer reassurance and comfort
- avoid complicated and worrying explanations that could be frightening and confusing
- help them find advice and support to understand distressing events and feelings
- children can always contact Childline free and confidentially on the phone and online.
Dealing with bullying and abuse
It’s also important to address bullying and abuse following terrorist attacks.
- Some children may feel targeted because of their faith or appearance
Look for signs of bullying, and make sure that they know they can talk with you about it. Often children might feel scared or embarrassed, so reassure them it's not their fault that this is happening, and that they can always talk to you or another adult they trust. Alert your child’s school so that they can be aware of the issue.
- Dealing with offensive comments about a child’s faith or background
If you think your child is making unkind or abusive comments, it’s important to intervene. Calmly explain that comments like this are not acceptable. Your child should also understand that someone’s beliefs do not make them a terrorist. You could ask them how they think the other child felt, or ask them how they felt when someone said something unkind to them. Explain what you will do next, such as telling your child's school.
Answering questions about terrorism
Watch this video to see how three parents answered their children's questions based on footage from Paris.
Get more support and advice
Talking about difficult topics
Educate Against Hate
This website gives parents, teachers and school leaders practical advice on protecting children from extremism and radicalisation.
Work or volunteer with children and families?
Visit NSPCC Learning for information, resources and training to help you safeguard and protect children and young people across the UK.