Preventing radicalisation

We have a duty to be aware of the risks of radicalisation of our young people from all extremist ideologies and to take action where we suspect there is a risk of harm

With increasing concerns about radicalisation of young people there is a need to actively challenge extremist views and prevent young people being drawn into terrorism. Keeping children safe from harm includes keeping them safe from extreme ideologies and behaviours.

As organisations working with children and young people, we must have an awareness of the potential influences of extremist ideology and the risks of radicalisation. This means knowing the children and young people you work with well, the dynamics of peer groups, their families and the local community (considering also contextual safeguarding).

We can do much to promote positive discussion and adoption of fundamental values of tolerance, respect, liberty and the rule of law through role modelling and direction.

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Definition of radicalisation

Radicalisation refers to the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and extremist ideologies associated with terrorist groups.

Keeping Children Safe in Education

Quotation marks

The Government strategy to combat terrorism is known as CONTEST. Within this wider strategy is the Prevent agenda which has three specific strategic objectives:

  • respond to the ideological challenge of terrorism and the threat we face from those who promote it
  • prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and ensure that they are given appropriate advice and support
  • work with sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation that we need to address

The Government has defined extremism in the Prevent strategy as: “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs”.

Terrorist groups often draw on extremist ideology, some people who join terrorist groups have previously been members of extremist organisations and have been radicalised by them.


Prevent work is intended to deal with all kinds of terrorist threats to the UK. The most significant of these threats is currently from terrorist groups linked to Far Right and Islamist extremists, who pose a continued threat to our safety and security.  There is also concern about other extremist groups, for example, extreme left wing or environmental extremism, and extreme misogynist ideology. In 2020-21, for the third consecutive year, there were more accepted referrals to Channel for concerns related to extreme right-wing radicalisation than for Islamist radicalisation.

The Prevent programme is early intervention support provided to address the personal and social factors which make people more receptive to radicalisation, and to divert them away from being drawn into violent ideologies and criminal behaviour. It works in partnership with front-line professionals such as teachers, health workers, social workers and others, and is delivered by local authority teams, local policing teams, community organisations, and charities. It does not target any one community and is not limited to any age group. The programme provides training for educators, etc. to help them understand and implement the Prevent Duty and protect vulnerable children in their care.

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Our responsibilities ...

  • Organisations – particularly schools – must ensure that staff receive appropriate training;
  • We must ensure that there is reference to radicalisation as part of wider safeguarding duties;
  • We must assess the risk to individual children as well as cohorts within school;
  • We must report concerns were necessary;
  • We should build resilience to radicalisation through the curriculum and promotion of British Values;
  • We must be able to evidence safeguarding arrangements to promote pupils’ welfare and prevent radicalisation and extremism.

Vulnerability to radicalisation

All children and young people are at risk, regardless of age, social class, religion, ethnic or educational background, however there are certain children are more vulnerable to radicalisation, including those who are:

  • struggling with a sense of identity and belonging.
  • becoming distanced from their cultural or religious background.
  • questioning their place in society.
  • having family issues.
  • experiencing a traumatic event.
  • experiencing mental ill health.
  • experiencing racism or discrimination.
  • having difficulty in interacting socially and lacking empathy.
  • not always understanding the consequences of their actions.
  • presenting with low self-esteem.

Spot the signs & know what to do

Indicators that a child / young person is being radicalised can be where they are …

  • being overly secretive about their online viewing, spending increasing amounts of time online, sharing extreme views on social media and gaming platforms.
  • expressing an ‘us and them’ mentality – a sign of a sense of social isolation.
  • becoming more argumentative or domineering in their viewpoints, showing a desire to control others.
  • being quick to condemn those who disagree and ignoring views that contradict their own.
  • showing an obsessive or angry desire for change or ‘something to be done’
  • blaming others/groups of people for things not turning out as wanted, their feelings of rejection etc.
  • questioning their faith or identity.
  • downloading or promoting extremist content.
  • socially isolated or have acquired a high number of new friends.
  • altering their appearance – change in style of dress or appearance.

If someone is exhibiting one, or more, of these signs, it still doesn’t necessarily mean that they are being radicalised – changes in views and behaviour may be part of a child or young person growing up and learning more about the world around them / wanting to make their mark.  Be calm, open, and non-confrontational so that you encourage them to share their ideas and opinions with you.

Concerns should then be addressed through your setting’s reporting protocol, this may be via your DSL or specified Prevent Coordinator who will inform the local Prevent team. The Prevent team will follow a process of screening, and assessment – if the person is felt to be at risk of radicalisation, a multi-agency Channel panel discussion will take place and appropriate intervention agreed. Once this is in place there will be review meetings to decide if further support or action is needed.


Channel is about ensuring that vulnerable children and adults of any faith, ethnicity or background receive support before their vulnerabilities are exploited by those that would want them to embrace terrorism, and before they become involved in criminal terrorist related activity. Support provided could include mentoring, theological guidance, careers assistance, diversionary activities such as sport or signposting to mainstream services such as education, employment or housing.

You may be asked to be part of a Channel panel meeting. It aims to identify whether an individual is at risk of being drawn into terrorism along with the nature and extent of that risk.  The panel will then develop a support package tailored to the person’s specific needs, to help them move away from harmful activity.  This will be reviewed regularly.

Channel is voluntary and people who are referred must give consent (via a parent or guardian if they are underage) before they can be given support.


  • Educate against hate

    This website gives teachers, parents and school leaders practical advice and information on protecting children from extremism and radicalisation.

  • Protecting children from radicalisation: the prevent duty

    Guidance for schools and childcare providers on preventing children and young people from being drawn into terrorism.

  • Prevent duty guidance

    Prevent duty guidance for Scotland, England and Wales.

  • Channel guidance

    Channel is part of the Prevent strategy. The process is a multi-agency approach to identify and provide support to individuals who are at risk of being drawn into terrorism.

  • Video resources

    Video library of short videos providing more information about Prevent along with case studies.

  • ACT Early

    ACT Early is a dedicated safeguarding website and advice line launched in 2020 by Counter Terrorism Policing. It provides guidance and support around extremism and radicalisation and encourages those (including family and friends) worried about a young person being groomed to act early enough to stop it.

  • Introduction to PREVENT e-learning package

    Free, government provided elearning. This offers an introduction to the Prevent duty, and explains how it aims to safeguard vulnerable people from being radicalised to supporting terrorism or becoming terrorists themselves.

  • Prevent Duty advice for Early Years Settings

    Short commentary on how the prevent duty is applicable to early years settings and the areas to consider.

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  • Training resources for Safeguarding Leads to use in team meetings;
  • Reference documents for additional information;
  • Handouts for school staff summarising each topic;
  • Quizzes to test staff understanding.
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