The NSPCC has just opened a helpline for parents who are worried that their children may be being recruited by Daesh.

Callers have been given training to advise parents on signs to watch for, although the source of the training is unknown. The article does not explain what legal and other forms of advice the charity can offer should a child be preparing to leave for Syria.

The charity does offer this tentative list though, which they say could ‘hint’ at a child being radicalised:

  • Isolating themselves from family and friends
  • Talking as if from a scripted speech
  • Showing increased levels of anger
  • Becoming disrespectful and asking inappropriate questions.

The article outlining the NSPCC’s new initiative (linked to above), also offers case studies of children who left the UK to travel to Syria to join Daesh, and interestingly, sheds light on some of the reasons children chose to join the movement. Some believed it was a way to become a better Muslim, others wanted to be part of something special. Crucially, others felt that the West was responsible for Muslim suffering around the world, particularly in Gaza.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless explains that: “The fact that a young person might hold extreme or radical views is not a safeguarding issue in itself. But when young people are groomed for extremist purposes and encouraged to commit acts that could hurt themselves or others, then it becomes abuse.”

Several thought-provoking discussions stem from this development:

  • At what point does radicalisation become abuse and at what age, if any does the appropriation of an ideology become the sole responsibility of a minor?
  • Are there underlying parenting concerns we should be exploring to try to understand why some children are looking to belong to a movement or cause that promises to glorify them, in this context through violence?
  • And how do we effectively balance child rights and child protection in a conversation about preteen and teenage ideological experimentation which has the potential to lead to a child’s death?

We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Researching Reform does not use the terms Islamic State, Isis or ISIL – if you’d like to know more about the significance of these names, this helpful article from the BBC is worth a read.

If you are worried about a child, you can call the police, or NSPCC helpline added below.