The NSPCC has launched a free, 24 hour service to support parents and children worried about radicalisation, in response to “a wave of terrorist attacks” and calls from concerned adults.
Call staff have been trained by experts to spot the warning signs of radicalisation, and where necessary advise adults who are concerned that a child is being groomed by radicals.
The training also included how extremists might befriend and recruit vulnerable young people, feed them extreme ideologies, and then encourage them to commit terrorist attacks.
Warning signs include a child isolating themselves from friends and family, increased levels of anger, becoming more disrespectful, talking as if from a scripted speech, and asking inappropriate questions.
“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 He has started acting differently recently and has become more withdrawn. ” NSPCC helpline caller
Children most at risk of being radicalised include those with low self-esteem, gang members, and victims of bullying and discrimination.
The NSPCC say that whilst these behaviours may not necessarily be signs of grooming, and may be typical of normal teenage behaviour, adults worried about radicalisation can call the helpline on 0808 800 5000.
One caller to the helpline expressed concerns about a child they know, saying: “I fear that they may start holding extremist beliefs because I’ve heard her saying some worrying things.
They added: “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.”
Peter 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.”