17 Signs You're A Young Person Ripe For Radicalisation

22/07/2015 15:20 | Updated 23 July 2015

Much has been made of the government's Prevent Strategy, part of which requires teachers and lecturers to monitor their students for potential extremism activity.

Concerns have been aired around what kind of behaviour is defined as "extremist", with teachers feeling they have been left to their own devices to decide, while others have said the strategy will alienate Muslims.

However, from the Prevent Strategy document itself, to Ofsted reports and Department for Education guides, the government has been issuing advisory notes on what constitutes "extremist" behaviour, and what traits teachers should be wary of, for a while. And it seems everything from friendships to typical teenage attributes is under scrutiny.

  • 1 If you use a video camera a lot
    Tom Grill via Getty Images
    One school teacher who had attended the government's Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) training was asked what staff were told to look for when judging whether or not a child is engaging with terrorism.

    One of the signs, according to the teacher, was if "they have got video cameras out all the time".

    Source: Katy Pal Sian, Race Ethnicity and Education (2013)
  • 2 If you, or one of your family members, is visiting family in Pakistan
    According to the same teacher cited in Katy Pal Sian's, Race Ethnicity and Education report, another sign of engaging with extremism is: "if one of the family members is back and forth to Pakistan or Afghanistan and for long periods of time, or they might say to you that they are going to a camp somewhere or visiting family somewhere".

    As Sian points out: "If.. a Muslim child is visiting family in Pakistan or Afghanistan this is subject to scrutiny, whereas a white pupil going away on holiday to visit relatives is not questioned."
  • 3 If you're after excitement and adventure
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    According to the Department for Education's "Learning Together To Be Safe" toolkit, the decision by a young person to become involved in violent extremism, "may be driven by the desire for 'adventure' and excitement".
  • 4 If you want some street cred
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    According to the same document, wanting to "promote [your] street cred" is one of the indicators of becoming involved in extremism.
  • 5 If you fight with your family
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    According to the government, a "personal crisis may make youths susceptible to exploitation by violent extremists".

    "This may for example include significant tensions within the family which produce a sense of isolation of the young person from the traditional certainties of family life."
  • 6 If you want to get "in" with a group
    The decision by a young person to become involved in "violent extremism" is "likely to involve identification with a charismatic individual and attraction to a group which can offer identity, social network and support".

    Tai from Clueless, anyone?
    Source: Learning Together To Be Safe, Department For Education
  • 7 Wanting a father figure in your life
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    "Seeking family and father substitutes" is listed as one of the factors likely to contribute to young people joining racist or far-right groups.

    Source: Learning Together To Be Safe, Department For Education
  • 8 If you were offended by the Charlie Hebdo cartoons
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    Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, raised concerns in April students would be worried about expressing their opinions for fear of being accused of radicalisation: "When the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo journalists occurred, there were, in some London schools, Muslim pupils who went into school who did not feel they could say, ‘I was offended by those cartoons.’

    "It’s the idea that someone is prevented from saying ‘I was offended by that’ because that might target them as a potential terrorist.”
  • 9 If you download 'suspicious' material
    Rizwaan Sabir
    Nottingham University student Rizwaan Sabir was held for seven days without charge after downloading a manual from a US government website for academic research into terrorism.

    The manual, which police said Sabir was using for terrorist purposes, was available for purchase at WH Smith, Waterstones - as well as the university's own library.
  • 10 If you type any "terrorism-related terms" into Google
    Education institutions are being offered new software which helps teachers monitor potentially extremist online activity.

    The software alerts teachers if "pupils use specific terrorism-related terms or phrases or visit extremist websites on school computers, laptops or tablets"
  • 11 If you're sexist
    Andrew Bret Wallis via Getty Images
    If you have views contrary to British values, such as intolerance of other cultures and gender inequality, then it could be a sign you're ripe for radicalisation.

    Source: Prevent Strategy
  • 12 If you don't believe in gay marriage
    Timothy D. Easley/AP
    Children who hold homophobic views should be considered at greater risk of becoming radicalised, according to education secretary Nicky Morgan.

    Morgan, who twice voted against gay marriage in 2013, said: "Sadly, Isis are extremely intolerant of homosexuality."
  • 13 If you ever feel like just being on your own
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    One of the indicators of a vulnerability to be radicalised is a "sense of isolation", according to Ofsted guidance.
  • 14 If you've got low self-esteem
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    (Er, hello every teenager, ever.)

    Low self-esteem, a discomfort about your place in society, or searching for answers to questions about your faith, identity and belonging, are all cause for concern, according to the Safeguarding in Schools report.
  • 15 If you fall out with your old friends, and hook up with new ones
    Mean Girls, anyone?

    According to the same Ofsted report, students who "may have dissociated from their existing friendship group and become involved with a new and different group of friends" could be a subject for radicalisation.
  • 16 If you change your appearance
    Zoonar RF via Getty Images
    "Significant changes to appearance" is a "critical risk factor" in indicating whether a young person is vulnerable to being radicalised.

    Seriously, who *didn't* have an emo phase?

    Source: Safeguarding In Schools
  • 17 If you're a bit of a rebel
    Paul Bradbury via Getty Images
    Do you smoke? Enjoy a WKD? Sneak in through the downstairs window after a wild night of partying?

    Then you show signs of the "youth rebellion" factor which the Department for Education says makes you likely to join a racist or far-right group.

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