Extremism & Radicalisation
Extremism is defined by the 2011 Prevent strategy as:
"Vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. Also included in the definition is the call for the death of members of our armed forces, whether in this country or overseas."
Extremism is defined by the Crown Prosecution Service as:
The demonstration of unacceptable behaviour by using any means or mediums to express views which:
- Encourage, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs;
- Seek to provoke others to terrorist acts;
- Encourage other serious criminal activity or seek to provoke others to serious criminal acts; or
- Foster hatred, which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK.
Extremism affects individuals and communities and can be a catalyst towards disaffection that may lead to violence. Whether it is from Islamic terrorists, Irish republican terrorists, racist and fascist organisations, far-right extremist groups, animal rights activists or ecological protestors there is no need to debate the ideologies and create a culture that rejects violence and intolerance in whatever form it takes.
Radicalisation refers to the process by which someone comes to support terrorism and violent extremism and, in some cases, to the participate in terrorist groups. It is driven by an ideology, and it advocates, that support the use of violence to meet its goals. The Prevent strategy suggests that radicalisation may occur as people search for identity, meaning and community.
It must be remembered that there is no typical 'extremist' or a particular indicator that someone is considering the use of violence to support extremist ideas.
Those who become involved are from a range of backgrounds and experiences and most individuals who hold 'radical' views do not become directly involved in violent activity.
The process of 'radicalisation' differs for each individual and can take place over either a very extended or a short period of time. It is vital that schools have strategies and risk assessments in place identifying how concerns are recognised and responded to.
The importance of discussing extremism in schools
Education is fundamental to equipping children and young people with the knowledge and skills to think for themselves, to challenge and to debate. It allows the opportunity to learn about different cultures and faiths and the values we share. By supporting the exploration of ideas and helping children and young people to form their views is hope that children and young people can be prevented from becoming involved in terrorism.
Schools can support their young people by:
- Providing a safe environment for discussing controversial issues and helping young people understand how they can influence and participate in decision making.
- Encouraging young people to express their views but also to appreciate the impact their views can have on others.
- To encourage them to take responsibility for their actions and to understand that the use of violence to further any cause is criminal.
- Creating an understanding of the values on which our society is founded and our system of democratic government to help connect with the Prevent agenda.
- Recognising that they can be exposed to extremist influences or prejudiced views, particularly via the internet and other social media and addressing the issues in the same way as other safeguarding strategies are taught.
- Develop continued professional development for staff to help them identify and respond appropriately when there are concerns that a child/young person is being drawn into terrorism or extremism.
- Working with local partners, families and communities, to support pupils who may be vulnerable as part of their safeguarding responsibilities.
Indicators a young person may be becoming involved in extremism
- Withdrawing from a normal social interaction or loss of interest in other friends/activities.
- Becoming obsessed by the internet or social networking sites and being secretive about what they are doing.
- Becoming uncooperative, disengaged or using provocative behaviour.
- Fascination with weapons, chemicals, explosives or extremist events.
- Changes in relationships/withdrawal from family.
- Changes in friendship groups (including adult relationships) or a desire to be part of a gang.
- Communications with others that suggests identification with a group, cause or ideology.
- Possession of materials or symbols associated with an extremist cause.
- Using derogatory language towards another group.
- Attempts to recruit others to a group of cause.
- Change in behaviour or appearance centred on an ideology, group or cause.
- Seeking to recruit/'groom' others to extremist ideology.
- Possession of violent extremist literature.
- Absence patterns or travel plans.
- Using extremist narratives and a global ideology to explain personal disadvantage.
If you are worried about the welfare of a child or young person it may be useful to ask the following questions:
- Who is the young person involved with?
- Who are their peers?
- Have there been changes in the young person's behaviour or attitude?
- Are there any other issues that could be the reason behind the changes?
- What could the young person be involved in?
- Is this a child protection issue?
- Who is being affect who may require a safeguarding response? i.e the concern may relate to adults as well as young people.
What should you do if you are concerned?
Contact the NSPCC help line on 0808 800 5000 or text 88858.
See It, Report It - support reporting extremist content online.
Prevent - Educate Against Hate.