The Prevent Strategy is not just about discussing extremism itself. It is also about educating children and vulnerable adults about values such as tolerance and mutual respect. The College will make sure any discussions are suitable for the age and maturity of the children and vulnerable adults involved.
Extremism can take many forms, including political, religious and misogynistic extremism. Some of these may be a bigger threat in our area than others. We will give children and vulnerable adults the skills to protect themselves from any extremist views they may encounter, now or later in their lives.
The internet provides entertainment, connectivity and interaction. Children may need to spend a lot of time on the internet while studying, and they may also use other social media and messaging sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Telegram, Snapchat or WhatsApp.
These can be useful tools but we need to be aware that there are powerful programmes and networks that use these media channels to reach out to young people and can communicate extremist messages.
Young people at risk may display extrovert behaviour, start getting into trouble at school or on the streets and mixing with other children who behave badly, but this is not always the case.
Sometimes those at risk may be encouraged by the people they are in contact with not to draw attention to themselves. As part of some forms of radicalisation, parents may feel their child’s behaviour seems to be improving. Children may become quieter and more serious about their studies, and may also dress more modestly and mix with a group of people that seems to be better behaved than previous friends.
TV and media
The media provides a view on world affairs. However, this is often a very simple version of events which are in reality very complex. Therefore children may not understand the situation fully or appreciate the dangers involved in the views of some groups.
Radicalisation can be really difficult to spot. Signs that may indicate a child is being radicalised include:
Children who are at risk of radicalisation may have low self-esteem, or be victims of bullying or discrimination. Extremists might target them and tell them they can be part of something special, later brainwashing them into cutting themselves off from their friends and family.
However, these signs don't necessarily mean a child is being radicalised – it may be normal teenage behaviour or a sign that something else is wrong. If you notice any change in a child's behaviour and you're worried, you can call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000.
Young people are exposed to news in many ways, so it would be practically impossible to shelter them from reports of terrorist attacks when they occur.
When talking with your child, it’s ok to agree such attacks are frightening and sad, and that you can’t stop them happening. Avoid complicated, worrying explanations, as they won’t be able to process the information and it could leave them more frightened and confused.
It’s also important to address victimisation following the terrorist attacks.