In the last week there has been a considerable amount of discussion about the role the internet and social media plays in the radicalisation of young people, in the wake of reports of three teenage girls from Bethnal Green who are thought to have travelled to Syria.
The BBC has reported that the families of the three 15 year olds have appealed for them to return and said there were no signs they were planning to go to Syria.
It has prompted a discussion about the role of social media in the radicalisation and grooming of young people.
It has highlighted a need for an open and ongoing dialogue in our communities – among children, young people, parents, carers, schools and wider – to ensure that young people have the skills to be critical thinkers online and are resilient to online extremism, whether from groups like Islamic State or far right groups and others.
Earlier this year, the UK Safer Internet Centre issued a briefing to all Local Safeguarding Children Boards to highlight this issue and we’re in discussion with a range of key partners - including CEOP, Home Office and Islington Council – about how we can support parents and carers with this issue, and we hope to be able to share something further soon.
In the meantime:
Parents/carers: Have an open and ongoing dialogue with your children about what they are doing and who they are speaking to online; and help to build their critical evaluation skills and making sure they know they can turn to you if anything worries them.
Schools and the Children’s workforce: It’s important that these risks and threats are considered for every child, right across the country, including places that have traditionally seen themselves as not being at risk. For more information about the Home Office’s free training product about radicalisation awareness ‘Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent (WRAP)’ email WRAP@homeoffice.x.gsi.gov.uk. If you have a concern about a child in respect of extremism and the support options are not available locally, follow your existing child protection process to report concerns.
Young people: Be critical of the things you see online and report anything that concerns you. If you’re worried about a friend, you should speak to a trusted adult, like a parent or teacher, or contact a helpline like ChildLine.
We all have a responsibility to take action to report any concerning content online: