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

Everyone in the United Kingdom has the right to express their beliefs and interests openly. As a democratic society, the U.K protects the rights of all law-abiding people, including those who belong to minority political, religious and ethnic groups. However, it becomes a concern to everybody, including families, communities and law enforcement, if a person begins to advocate or use violence to achieve a political, religious or ideological goal.

What is Radicalisation?

Radicalisation or extremism is where someone holds views that are intolerant of people who are of a different ethnicity, culture, religion, gender or sexual identity. Extremists may try to force their views on others and, in some cases, may believe that these views can justify the use of violence in order to achieve certain aims.

Examples of violent extremist causes that have used violence to achieve their ends include white extremists from the far-right or Islamist fundamentalists and  animal rights activists,  all of which usually attract people to their cause through a persuasive, sometimes violent narrative. These kinds of narratives often provide people with answers democracy doesn't give to the various grievances they may have either towards their school, family, missed opportunities in life or other. They then justify violence or criminal actions with the need to impose radical changes or avenge any suffering they themselves or others may have been subjected to. 

Radicalisation process

There is no single distinct  pathway of radicalisation towards violent extremism as the process is unique to each individual and can be very different between girls and boys that may draw them in. During  the early stages it can be even more difficult for parents to distinguish the signs of radicalisation in a young person from them merely forging their own identity through the teenage years to adulthood. This is why it is important for parents to have a space such as Families For Life  to talk in a safe and confidential environment to air their concerns without judgement and stigmatisation or fear of being reported.

However,  there are some common elements in the experiences of most people who have become radicalised in the U.K, regardless of their beliefs or motivations.

Radicalisation happens when a person’s thinking and behaviour become significantly different from how most  members of their society and community view social issues and participate politically. Only small numbers of people become radicalised and they can be from a diverse range of ethnic, national, political and religious groups. As a person is radicalised they may begin to seek to significantly change the nature of society and government. However, if someone decides that using fear, terror or violence is justified to achieve ideological, political or social change – this is violent extremism. Exactly what influences individuals to go down a path of using or supporting violence to seek change can be difficult to determine, but there can be a number of factors. The radicalisation process is unique to each person who undergoes it, and in most cases, will not cause serious harm. In exceptional circumstances, however, the decisions made by a radicalised person can result in a serious and lethal act of violent extremism. Those who are radicalised and display threatening behaviour, incite hatred or promote the use of violence for their cause require some form of intervention. This may come from family, religious or community leaders, or law enforcement. Communities play a vital role in assisting people to move away from violent extremism and intervening to stop acts of violence before they are committed.