It is not easy to be a parent these days. We love our children and we willingly sacrifice our time, energy and money for their well being and safety. But even with the best intentions many parents can feel quite overwhelmed by all the external forces faced by children in today's society and in particular, children can be most challenging as they enter their adolescence years. This is a time when young people begin to assert their independence and find their own identity and many experience behavioural changes that can often seem confusing and unpredictable to parents.

Therefore maintaining a positive relationship can sometimes be difficult as children grow and develop and seek something different from their own family.

Despite being in the headlines on a regular basis, many parents still struggle to fully understand what radicalisation is, the effects it has on their children and how to prevent and deal  with it in the best way. Some parents wonder if their worries are justified or if their child’s behaviour is really a concern. It is important to be able to trust somebody in a safe, confidential environment in order to air your worries and work through the issues you may be facing. That’s why Families For Life is here to listen. We know first hand the wave of emotions parents often experience from fear, shame, and despair. Contacting Families for Life  can be the first step in getting the help or reassurance you need.

If someone is exhibiting one or more potential signs it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are definitely being subjected to radicalisation. However, it is important to use and respond to your natural instinct as a parent – Do not be complacent. If you feel that something has changed such as secretive behaviour act on this instinct to find out what has changed and why.

So what can parents do?

  • Let them know you are always there to support them and they can talk to you if they feel worried. Be calm, open, and non-confrontational so that you encourage them to share their ideas and opinions with you. Remember that you’re likely to be dealing with a vulnerable person who is being groomed or manipulated, so show acceptance for their views even if you don’t perhaps feel that way.

  •  Just asking children what sites, apps and games they use could be a great way to start a conversation.

  • Try not to be overly strict and ban all usage as they are more likely to hide it from you. Instead set rules that allow sufficient freedom for your child whilst letting you monitor what they are doing and providing clear boundaries. 
  • It is important to know who your child spends time with. Know who their friends and friends' family are and even suggest you meet them.
  • Monitor their internet usage. Do they switch screens when you enter the room or when you go near their computer?
  • Talk about identity. Reassure young people who may be struggling with their identity that it’s normal to have lots of different aspects. Letting them know you’re supporting them as they explore the possibilities is one of the most important things you can do. Make sure they know it’s all right to be confused and that they can always come to you for guidance.
  • Encourage them to take up positive activities with local community groups that you know are trustworthy. Check them out yourself beforehand. Encourage your child to show an interest in the local community and to promote a sense of tolerance and show respect for people from all faiths and backgrounds.
  • Talk to your child about what they see on the TV or the internet and discuss their views and explain how the media works and that what they see or read may not be the whole picture.
  • As much as possible, be aware of your child’s on-line activity and update your own knowledge. Know what social media and messaging sites your child uses and what is out there. Keep up to date; social media is constantly changing and evolving. 
  • Remind your child that people they contact over the internet may be pretending to be someone else or telling them things that are not necessarily true.
  • Help your child to understand the dangers of becoming involved in situations and groups of which they may not have the full information about. Teach them to positively and constructively question when they are unsure.
  • Parents also need to watch their children’s behaviour carefully, particularly for significant changes in attitude. For example;  young people becoming more secretive about their web usage, or hiding their phone and deleting messages.
  • Recruiters will often trawl social networks and online gaming platforms popular with children, often using profiles suggesting they are of similar age to their victims.

​​​​​"Supporting and empowering families to combat radicalisation"