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Spot the Signs of Radicalisation

This week, we launched our new campaign to raise awareness of the possible signs of radicalisation, and the importance of the role families can play to protect their loved ones. There are many ways you can protect your family including spotting the signs before it’s too late. Recognising some of the early indicators that our loved ones may potentially be becoming radicalised will prevent stress and trauma in the future.

We certainly understand that there are plenty of reasons that a person may choose to join a violent ‘cause’ and spotting the signs is not straightforward, but as someone who knows your family member best, you can still make the biggest difference.

With the continued catastrophic situation in Syria and increased calls from ISIS for an assault on the west, young people are vulnerable to radicalisation and recruitment by terrorists and are being encouraged to formulate attacks in their own countries. Many families have spoken out about their shock, loss and heartbreak after realising that their loved ones have fallen to ISIS, calling for families to look out for the signs and seek help.

We know that such a situation is always hurtful and difficult to approach, particularly because it can happen to anyone. But that’s why it’s even more crucial that families know the possible indicators of radicalisation and remain in tune with their family members. You have the power to intervene before things go too far.

Some of the signs you can look out for in your family:

– Pay attention to their use of language: Have they started to use derogatory terms? Do they express themselves in a divisive ‘them and us’ manner about others who do not share their religion or beliefs?

– Explore how they use their spare time: Are they spending increasing amounts of time online, and are they overly secretive about what they are doing, failing to identify the ‘friends’ they most often speak to?

– Identify drastic changes in their circle: Has their circle of friends changed and are they distancing themselves from friends they were previously close to?

If you find that this is the case, then it is important to delve further. These, of course, are not definitive signs of radicalisation or vulnerability to violence – because often teenagers will undergo change and will experience behavioural shifts – but families have a responsibility to explore potential risks and discuss with a professional if they are worried.

As the school holidays approach, FAST can provide you with support and information about how best to intervene. This will prevent long-term loss and the devastating emotional impact that follows after a family member leaves home to commit acts of violence.

If you have concerns your child might be affected by anything you’ve read here, you may want to raise the issue with someone you trust, perhaps a friend or family member who knows your child well. Please visit our help page here.