Online radicalisation

Protecting young people from grooming


Gaming Computer
Tackling terrorism remains to be one of the government’s main priorities.

What with the convenience and accessibility of social networks, social games and encrypted communication platforms, the mammoth task of combatting extremism is made much trickier.

How are extremists using online technologies to exploit children into believing their ways?


What is online radicalisation?
Increasingly, the Internet is being used by people who wish to share views and opinions. When this is done by an extremist - someone who holds extreme political and/or religious views and who may promote illegal or violent action – in a way designed to cause those views to be adopted by others, this is defined as online radicalisation. It is a form of grooming – enticing someone to act in a certain way or manner for malicious reasons.

How are young people radicalised online?
Extremists meet young people where they are at – in online games, on social networks and on apps. Because of the physical divide, children may not perceive online strangers as potentially unsafe in the way that they would do in the real world, and therefore they may engage with them on more personal levels. Their usual barriers may be down, causing them to be more vulnerable. In addition to this, as young people grow and develop in their understanding of who they are and where they belong in the world, they may search for others’ views and opinions and seek guidance from their online acquaintances; their youth leading to greater susceptibility.

Some extremist organisations make training resources and videos using themes of popular violent games, such as Call of Duty, as they know that these will be particularly appealing to young people. In some cases, extremist have directly used the social nature of online games to groom children – meeting them where they are at and playing on their emotions. Extremists may also publish content on YouTube or use other popular apps, such as Instagram and Snapchat, to spread their messages.

Extremist groomers play on a young person’s feelings and will make their ideals appealing.

Who is at greater risk?
Anyone, at any point, could potentially be groomed by an extremist online, but young people who fall into one of the below categories are particularly vulnerable:

  • Those who are searching for answers to life online;
  • Those who are associated with a gang, or involved in criminal activity;
  • Those who are suffering with behavioural problems or issues at home;
  • Those who lack self-esteem, confidence or a sense of identity.
  • Preventing online radicalisation
    To help young people stay safe from this form of grooming, it’s essential that they are taught to:

  • Understand that some strangers online pose risks, have corrupt intentions and may not be who they say they are;
  • Understand that people can publish anything online, even things that are false, untrustworthy and untrue;
  • Speak to an adult about anyone who is making them feel uncomfortable or trying to make them believe in certain views/opinions;
  • Report content or messages that promote violence.
  • Adults can also get involved by:

  • Talking to young people openly about terrorism and extremism – what it is and the effect it has;
  • Helping young people grow in their sense of self-confidence and self-worth;
  • Being aware of what young people are doing online and who they’re talking to;
  • Making sure that age-appropriate controls are in place;
  • Checking that young people know who to report inappropriate/violent content to;
  • Being aware of the signs that a young person may be being groomed: they may start to talk about new beliefs and cultures, they may become emotionally volatile or secretive and they may start to mistrust the mainstream media and look for conspiracy theories.


  • Further guidance, teaching resources and staff training on anti-radicalisation is available to E-safety Support and Safeguarding Essentials members. Join now!

    Written by Matt Lovegrove on July 12, 2018 12:35

    Subsidised memberships now available to Safeguarding Essentials

    SGE Square IconsSince 2013, we have been supporting schools across the UK and beyond to deliver consistent, outstanding practice in online safety. Recently, we have added additional resources to our service to address wider safeguarding requirements.

    To date, our online training has been completed over 130,000 times and over 100,000 downloadable resources have been accessed by our members.

    However, we recognise that some of the schools who need the greatest support are those with the least resource, particularly financially, to overcome their challenges.


    That’s why we have teamed up with our partners at Friendly WiFi to offer subsidised membership to those most in need - up to 100% discounts are available to qualifying schools.

    Discover your discount now! Click here

    How do schools qualify for subsidised membership?
    Our subsidised memberships are allocated based on current Ofsted rating or school status.

    What does membership include?
    Membership to Safeguarding Essentials provides your school with a suite of resources to support your safeguarding provision, including teaching materials, guidance for colleagues, advice for parents, policy templates and online training courses for staff. A full list of downloadable resources can be found here

    In addition, our supporters at Friendly WiFi are pleased to be offering their certification at exclusive rates, with up to 100% discount to qualifying schools.


    What is Friendly WiFi?

    Friendly WiFi is the world’s first safe certification standard for WiFi that shows users that they are being protected online from exposure to child sex abuse images and inappropriate adult content. The scheme was initiated by UK government and industry in a move to increase online safety measures for WiFi services, especially where children and young adults can be present.


    For schools it is essential to have some form of safeguarding for their students and visitors when they access the WiFi available and by evidencing that their WiFi includes the correct filters, schools can become Friendly WiFi certified. Friendly WiFi status shows they are protected and that the school is taking responsibility for the online safety and health of their students whilst providing a safe browsing environment for all users.

    To find out more, download a Friendly WiFi leaflet here

    To find out if your school qualifies for discount, click here

    Written by Safeguarding Essentials on July 16, 2018 12:05

    How changes to ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ will affect staff in schools and colleges

    Highlighting the areas of the KCSIE guidance that schools and settings need to be aware of

    Well it’s that time of the year again. As the sun continues to shine, we are hopefully thinking of our summer break and leaving school behind. When we come back to work though, ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ (KCSIE), our statutory guidance document for Safeguarding will have been updated and gone live on the 3rd September. Rather than mean wholesale changes to how we do things in our school or setting, the new guidance reflects the growing range of issues and risks that affect young people in England. What we do in school when something concerning comes to our attention may not change that much, yet the range of issues that we need to be aware of as professionals is definitely growing. It is not my intention to list all the changes of ‘KCSIE 2018’ here, but rather to highlight the areas that all of us in schools and settings need to be aware of.

    KCSIE states that:

    “Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is everyone’s responsibility. Everyone who comes into contact with children and their families has a role to play. In order to fulfil this responsibility effectively, all professionals should make sure their approach is child-centred. This means that they should consider, at all times, what is in the best interests of the child.”

    Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined as:

  • protecting children from maltreatment;
  • preventing impairment of children’s health or development;
  • ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care; and
  • taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.
  • Your school or college will probably have in place a range of support that you can offer a child to ensure that they can be kept safe and can achieve their full potential. This support is called ‘early help’ and is designed to ensure emerging potential risks to being safe and achieving their potential can be tackled and prevented from getting worse. While all children may need additional support at some time or other, the new KCSIE sets out clearly that there are some children more vulnerable than others who are most likely to need it. It states:

    “Any child may benefit from early help, but all school and college staff should be particularly alert to the potential need for early help for a child who:
  • is disabled and has specific additional needs;
  • has special educational needs (whether or not they have a statutory education, health and care plan);
  • is a young carer;
  • is showing signs of being drawn in to anti-social or criminal behaviour, including gang involvement and association with organised crime groups
  • is frequently missing/goes missing from care or from home;
  • is misusing drugs or alcohol themselves;
  • is at risk of modern slavery, trafficking or exploitation;
  • is in a family circumstance presenting challenges for the child, such as substance abuse, adult mental health problems or domestic abuse;
  • has returned home to their family from care;
  • is showing early signs of abuse and/or neglect;
  • is at risk of being radicalised or exploited;
  • is a privately fostered child.”
  • All staff in education must read Annex A of KCSIE. The 2016 version listed only 4 key risks that schools, colleges and settings had to be aware of. In the 2018 version there are 11 of them. While we may not teach many (or any) children affected by these risks, they affect a significant number of children nationally and we must be aware of our role in identifying concerns, sharing information and supporting children affected by them.

    Children and the court system
    Sometimes children are required to give evidence in court and the whole process can be stressful for them and their families. Apart from helping a child understand the court process, schools have reported working with children who have had to be relocated after threats have been made to them and their families.

    There are two age appropriate guides to support children for 5-11-year olds and 12-17-year olds.

    Making child support arrangements via family courts during separation can be a very stressful time for children. The Ministry of Justice has launched an online child arrangements information tool with clear and concise information on the dispute resolution service.

    Children missing from education
    Children going missing, particularly repeatedly, can act as a vital warning sign of a range of safeguarding possibilities. This may include abuse and neglect, sexual abuse or exploitation and child criminal exploitation. It may indicate mental health problems, risk of substance abuse, risk of travelling to conflict zones, risk of female genital mutilation or risk of forced marriage. We need to be aware of our school or college’s unauthorised absence and children missing from education procedures and use them to ensure that early intervention can prevent situations getting worse.

    Children with family members in prison
    Approximately 200,000 children have a parent sent to prison each year. These children are at risk of poor outcomes including poverty, stigma, isolation and poor mental health. One school leader recently likened a child in her primary school losing his mother for 6 years to going through bereavement as she wouldn’t be around until he was 12. NICCO provides information designed to support professionals working with offenders and their children, to help mitigate negative consequences for those children.

    Child sexual exploitation (CSE)
    Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual.

    The multi-agency safeguarding document, ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ was updated in 2017 to reflect how professionals should approach and work with victims of CSE. It said that all school staff should be trained in the possible signs and indicators of CSE as a minimum and they should be made aware that they will work with victims of CSE if they have a career in education. While the high risk age group is 13-17 for CSE, recent information has shown an increased number of potential victims under 13 exploited through live streaming functions in apps such as Snapchat, Kik and others. A significant number of children exploited in this way have been of Primary school age.

    There are a number of useful resources that can support you in understanding this issue:
    Safeguarding Essentials members have access to a suite of CSE resources including an online training course for staff.
    Parents Against Child Exploitation (PACE) provides useful information for parents.
    The Centre of expertise on child sexual abuse (CSA) provide research and a directory of support services for CSE.
    Barnardos have a whole range of support resources and videos on their website.

    Child criminal exploitation: county lines
    Criminal exploitation of children is a geographically widespread form of harm that is a typical feature of county lines criminal activity: drug networks or gangs groom and exploit children and young people to carry drugs and money from urban areas to suburban and rural areas, market and seaside towns. The key to identifying potential involvement in county lines are missing episodes, when the victim may have been trafficked for the purpose of transporting drugs. County lines run through an established telephone number that people use to buy drugs. Currently, it is estimated that there are 720 county lines up and running in England.

    Fearless is a useful website with key information about county lines and the signs to look out for.

    Domestic abuse
    Exposure to domestic abuse and/or violence can have a serious, long lasting emotional and psychological impact on children. In some cases, a child may blame themselves for the abuse or may have had to leave the family home as a result. Domestic abuse affecting young people can also occur within their personal relationships, as well as in the context of their home life. Domestic abuse was identified as a factor in 50% of the 389,000 identified cases of Children in Need last year.

    Advice on identifying children who are affected by domestic abuse and how they can be helped is available at:
    NSPCC – Domestic abuse UK identifying signs and symptoms
    Refuge – the effects of domestic violence on children
    Safelives – young people and domestic abuse

    Homelessness
    Being homeless or being at risk of becoming homeless presents a real risk to a child’s welfare. Indicators that a family may be at risk of homelessness include household debt, rent arrears, domestic abuse and anti-social behaviour, as well as the family being asked to leave a property. In most cases school and college staff will be considering homelessness in the context of children who live with their families, and intervention will be on that basis. However, it should also be recognised in some cases 16 and 17 year olds could be living independently from their parents or guardians, for example through their exclusion from the family home, and will require a different level of intervention and support. The department and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government have published joint statutory guidance on the provision of accommodation for 16 and 17 year olds who may be homeless and/or require accommodation here.

    So-called ‘honour-based’ violence
    Honour based violence includes Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Forced Marriage and Breast Strapping (Ironing).

    Safeguarding Essentials members have access to a suite of FGM resources including an online training course for staff along with resources for parents and teaching materials.

    Preventing radicalisation
    This is a statutory duty and you should have received training in your school or college already. Safeguarding Essentials members have access to an anti-radicalisation online training course for staff.

    If you would like to learn more about Prevent, the government’s one stop shop website, educateagainsthate.com is a great place to go for questions, resources.

    Peer on peer abuse
    Abuse between children under 18 has been expanded to include:

  • bullying (including cyber bullying);
  • physical abuse such as hitting, kicking, shaking, biting, hair pulling, or otherwise causing physical harm;
  • sexual violence and sexual harassment;
  • sexting (also known as youth produced sexual imagery); and
  • initiation/hazing type violence and rituals.
  • Many schools and colleges now have a peer on peer abuse policy. Members of staff will need to be clear on your organisation’s:

  • procedures to minimise the risk of peer on peer abuse;
  • how allegations of peer on peer abuse will be recorded, investigated and dealt with;
  • clear processes as to how victims, perpetrators and any other child affected by peer on peer abuse will be supported;
  • a clear statement that abuse is abuse and should never be tolerated or passed off as “banter”, “just having a laugh” or “part of growing up”;
  • recognition of the gendered nature of peer on peer abuse (i.e. that it is more likely that girls will be victims and boys perpetrators), but that all peer on peer abuse is unacceptable and will be taken seriously.
  • Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges
    Guidance on sexual and harassment was brought out by the Department for Education in December 2017. This has also now become Part 5 of the new KCSIE guidance. Sexual violence and sexual harassment can occur between two children of any age and sex. It can also occur through a group of children sexually assaulting or sexually harassing a single child or group of children.

    We need to:

  • make it clear that sexual violence and sexual harassment is not acceptable, will never be tolerated and is not an inevitable part of growing up;
  • not tolerate or dismiss sexual violence or sexual harassment as “banter”, “part of growing up”, “just having a laugh” or “boys being boys”; and
  • challenge behaviours (potentially criminal in nature), such as grabbing bottoms, breasts and genitalia, flicking bras and lifting up skirts. Dismissing or tolerating such behaviours risks normalising them.

    Sexual violence are offences under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 that have been on the increase inside schools and colleges. These include:

  • Rape
  • Assault by penetration
  • Sexual assault
  • We need to understand our school or college’s:

  • Procedures for dealing with any incidents or disclosures
  • Reporting mechanism
  • Support for victims
  • Support for alleged perpetrators during an investigation
  • Hopefully, this will provide you with some light reading, training or researching as you sit on the beach. Whatever you do, enjoy your summer!



    Your thoughts?

    How do you feel about the proposed changes? How will they impact you and your school? Please share your thoughts using the comments section below.


    We would like to thank Michael for his analysis of the impending KCSIE changes. All Safeguarding Essentials and E-safety Support members will have access to an online briefing on the KCSIE guidance which will be made available at the beginning of September.

    Written by Michael Hawkins on July 05, 2018 12:26


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