Radicalisation is when someone starts to believe or support extreme views. They could be pressured to do things illegal by someone else or they might change their behaviour and beliefs and believe that sexual, religious or racial violence is OK.

Radicalisation can be really difficult to spot but children who are at risk of radicalisation may:

  • Have low self-esteem, feel isolated and lonely or wanting to belong.

  • Be victims of bullying or discrimination.

  • Be unhappy about themselves and what others might think of them.

  • Be embarrassed or judged about their culture, gender, religion or race.

  • Feel stressed or depressed.

  • Feel angry at other people or the government.

  • Feel confused about what they are doing.

  • Feel pressured to stand up for other people.


If you are worried about a Young Person and feel that they are vulnerable to radicalisation please contact Customer First on 0808 800 4005 for advice


Extremists might target them and tell them they can be part of something special and brainwash them into cutting themselves off from their friends and family.

Early signs of radicalisation may include:

  • Showing sympathy for extremist causes and talking positively about people who promote hate.
  • Glorifying violence or spending time with people on websites that promote violence, hate, racism, homophobia or Islamophobia.
  • Evidence of possessing illegal or extremist literature.
  • Unwilling to listen to other people's views.
  • Isolating themselves form family and friends.
  • Talking as if from a scripted speech.
  • Refusal to engage with or becoming abusive to others who are different to themselves, perhaps because of their race, religion, gender or sexuality.
  • Changes in appearance and dress.
  • Changes in friendship groups and behaviour.
  • Increased levels of anger.
  • Increased secretiveness, especially about where they are spending their time or what they are doing online.


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 are worried about a young person, the NSPCC Helpline offers support to adults and you can call them to discuss your worries.

Children can contact Childline if they're worried that they're being influenced by other people, or if they're worried about terrorism. 

The helplines offer a safe, non-judgmental space where adults and children can talk to them confidentially. However, if a child was thought to be at significant risk of harm, they would alert the appropriate authorities, as they would in any case where a child's safety is in serious question.


Speaking to children about terrorism

Hearing about the recent terrorist attacks and bombings in London and Manchester may worry children. They might feel unsafe and worry about another attack.

Tips from the NSPCC about talking to your child about these events include:

  • Listening carefully to a child’s fears and worries

  • Offering reassurance and comfort

  • Avoiding complicated and worrying explanations that could be frightening and confusing

  • Helping them to find advice and support to understand distressing events and feelings

  • Remember, children can always contact Childline free and confidentially on the phone and online if they want to talk to someone.


Reporting terrorist or extremist related information

The National Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) initiative allows anyone with any concerns, about terrorist or extremist-related material found on the internet, to report them anonymously online.


Further Information