We're supporting both adults and children around this issue, says John Cameron.
At a time when terrorist incidents are dominating the news, there's increasing concern about young people's involvement in extremist groups.
Radicalisation is inherently a secretive practice, and it can be hard to recognise when a young person is subject to this hidden threat.
We know that radicalisation can present itself in a number of different ways. However, irrespective of the mechanism used, or the ideologies followed, it can pose serious risks to a young person's safety. When London schoolgirl Kadiza Sultana was recently killed after fleeing to Syria last year, it was a tragic reminder that we need to do more to protect children from this issue.
Protecting children from harm
At the NSPCC, we work hard to protect children from harm, and we respond to new safeguarding issues as they emerge.
Radicalisation is becoming an increasing threat to children. After the Paris attacks last November, we noticed that we began receiving more and more calls around this issue.
We recognise that the public trust us to give them advice and support when there are fears for a child's wellbeing. When a child's extreme views evolve to the point where they could be harmful, physically or emotionally, it's important that we recognise this as a child protection issue.
What are we doing to protect children from radicalisation?
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 have more general worries about terrorism. Our helpline practitioners and Childline counsellors have received dedicated training to respond to this issue.
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.
Childline: here for young people
Childline has been supporting young people, whatever their worry, for the past 30 years.
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
- 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.
Why our work is important
Sean Thompson, a radicalisation expert, explains why it's important that we're offering support for adults and children worried about radicalisation.
Resources and training
Educate Against Hate
This website gives parents, teachers and school leaders practical advice on protecting children from extremism and radicalisation.
Training on radicalisation
This e-learning course, developed by the Home Office, provides a foundation on which to develop further knowledge about the risks of radicalisation and the roles involved in supporting those at risk.
Talking to your children about terrorism
Watch our video to see how three parents answer their children's questions based on footage from Paris. You can find more advice on The Times.