Indicators of vulnerability to radicalisation

There is no single route to radicalisation. There are certain behaviours you can watch out for that we often see when someone is being led down the path of extremism. These signs and vulnerabilities are not listed in any order of importance. Some of these behaviours and vulnerabilities can make a person more at risk of being exploited. Identifying them does not mean someone is being radicalised. There can be other explanations behind the behaviours you are seeing. If you are worried, then it is important to reach out for help to discuss your concerns.

  • being influence or controlled by a group
  • need for identify, meaning and belonging
  • an obsessive or angry desire for change or ‘something to be done’
  • spending an increasing amount of time online and sharing extreme view on social media
  • personal crisis
  • looking to blame others
  • desire for status of a need to dominate

Importance to act early

When we think of terrorism, we tend to think of 9/11, 7/7 and bombs going off. But this is only the end result of terrorism. It is resulting from months or years of recruitment, radicalisation, and advance planning. These hidden early aspects of terrorism can and do happen anywhere.

If you suspect a child, young person or adult is becoming radicalised or involved in extremism

There are many reasons that can make a young person vulnerable to exploitation by extremists. These include -

  • having a low self-esteem
  • a lack of belonging
  • feeling they have been the victim of bullying or discrimination
  • which has left them feeling isolated

Radicalisation can take place online, or face to face by someone they know including -

  • friends
  • family
  • contact with extremist groups

Sometimes curiosity can lead people to seek out the groups. It could also get them to research information they feel supports their views.

Some of the key signs to watch for are -

  • are they becoming increasingly isolated from family and friends
  • do you feel like they are talking as if from a script?
  • are they unwilling to engage with you about their views?
  • are they becoming intolerant of other people’s views?
  • are they becoming increasingly angry about issues or events they feel are unfair or unjust?
  • are they being secretive about who they are meeting online or in person?

In most cases these signs will not be linked to radicalisation and there will be other explanations for a person’s behaviour. If safe to do so, talk to them to find out what could be causing them to react in this way. Do not ignore behaviours you are concerned about.