Protecting children from radicalisation

Adults worried about children being radicalised and the impact of terrorism can call the NSPCC helpline for advice

The launch of our free, 24-hour service comes after recent terrorist attacks which have highlighted the growing problem of individuals being influenced by extremism.

The NSPCC helpline will provide support to adults who have concerns about children and young people being radicalised or who need advice on how to talk to their children about issues related to terrorism.

NSPCC helpline practitioners have been trained to spot the warning signs of radicalisation so they can advise adults who are worried about a child being groomed.

The training, provided by experts in the field, included how recruiters might befriend vulnerable young people, feed them ideologies and – in the worst case scenario - persuade them to commit terrorist attacks.


Worried about a child?

Contact our trained helpline counsellors for 24/7 help, advice and support.

0808 800 5000

Report a concern

Spotting the signs and getting support

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
  • increased levels of anger
  • becoming disrespectful and asking inappropriate questions.

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.

Children who are at risk of radicalisation may have low self-esteem, be members of gangs or a victim of bullying or discrimination. Radicals might target them and tell them they can be part of something special. And may brainwash them into cutting themselves off from their friends and family.

"I’m concerned that someone is trying to force a young boy into having extreme beliefs. He has started acting differently recently and has become more withdrawn. "
Caller who contacted NSPCC

The techniques used to groom children for radicalisation has parallels to sexual abuse grooming, and is a form of emotional abuse.

Grooming

Children and young people can be groomed online or in the real world, by a stranger or by someone they know - for example a family member, friend or professional. 
Read more about grooming

"I’m worried about a child I know. I fear that they may start holding extremist beliefs because I’ve heard her saying some worrying things. She’s also showing changes in behaviour and appears to be more aggressive towards her parents. I’m not sure how to approach this as I know the family well however, I don’t think staying silent is an option in the current climate."
NSPCC helpline caller

Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executivePeter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said:

“We've seen a wave of terrorist attacks recently and both parents and children tell us how frightened they are by what is happening. So it is vital that we are here for parents when they need our support and are able to provide them with non-judgemental advice on issues ranging from the wider terrorist threat to the dangers of radicalisation.

“Of course, the fact that a young person might hold extreme or radical views is not a safeguarding issue in itself. But when young people are groomed for extremist purposes and encouraged to commit acts that could hurt themselves or others, then it becomes abuse. That’s why we’ve trained our helpline practitioners to cope with this fresh danger to young people.”

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