Recognising the indicators of vulnerability to radicalisation

There is no such thing as a “typical extremist”: those who become involved in extremist actions come from a range of backgrounds and experiences, and most individuals, even those who hold radical views, do not become involved in violent extremist activity.

Pupils may become susceptible to radicalisation through a range of social, personal and environmental factors – it is known that violent extremists exploit vulnerabilities in individuals to drive a wedge between them and their families and communities. It is vital that school staff  are able to recognise those vulnerabilities.

Indicators of vulnerability include:

• Identity Crisis – the student / pupil is distanced from their cultural / religious heritage and experiences discomfort about their place in society;

• Personal Crisis – the student / pupil may be experiencing family tensions; a sense of isolation; and low self-esteem; they may have dissociated from their existing friendship group and become involved with a new and different group of friends; they may be searching for answers to questions about identity, faith and belonging;

Personal Circumstances – migration; local community tensions; and events affecting the student / pupil’s country or region of origin may contribute to a sense of grievance that is triggered by personal experience of racism or discrimination or aspects of Government policy;

• Unmet Aspirations – the student / pupil may have perceptions of injustice; a feeling of failure; rejection of civic life;

• Experiences of Criminality – which may include involvement with criminal groups, imprisonment, and poor resettlement /reintegration;

• Special Educational Need – students / pupils may experience difficulties with social interaction, empathy with others, understanding the consequences of their actions and awareness of the motivations of others.

More critical risk factors could include:

• Being in contact with extremist recruiters;

• Accessing violent extremist websites, especially those with a social networking element;

• Possessing or accessing violent extremist literature;

• Using extremist narratives and a global ideology to explain personal disadvantage;

• Justifying the use of violence to solve societal issues;

• Joining or seeking to join extremist organisations;

• Significant changes to appearance and / or behaviour;

At BCA we are committed to ensuring that staff undertake regular training in the warning signs of extremism and are confident and skilled in how to challenge it.

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