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

    Protecting our children against the risk of CSE

    CSE remains woefully under reported and many victims are unaware they are being exploited

    CSE ImageChild Sexual Exploitation (CSE for short) is a type of child abuse which occurs when a young person is encouraged, or forced, to take part in sexual activity in exchange for a ‘reward’ which can either be emotional or a physical gift, such as money or alcohol. Whilst some children are considered more at risk, CSE can happen to any child from any race, community or background and the exploitation can happen both online and offline.

    The last 10 years have seen CSE hit the headlines with the prosecution of gangs in Rotherham, Rochdale and Oxford but only last month, the NSPCC warned that the CSE still remains woefully under reported.

    Whilst children can be targeted at any age, teenagers are notably most vulnerable, particularly between the ages of 13 and 15 when they are learning to become young adults. This can be an emotional time when they are easily influenced, want to fit in with a crowd or may crave attention or recognition. With offenders using manipulative tactics, many child victims are unaware they are being groomed or exploited. Groomers can give them access to alcohol and drugs and make them feel grown up, which makes them feel they are choosing those relationships, when in reality they are being exploited. The very nature of grooming makes it difficult to recognise as groomers often succeed in deceiving both the victim and those around them. Many adults are therefore not able to recognise the signs that a young person is being exploited.

    In a recent report by the Independent, NSPCC’s policy manager, Lisa McCrindle highlighted the importance of relationship education in schools “so young people know what a good relationship looks like and what an unhealthy, abusive relationship looks like.” This follows research by CEOP (Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre) which affirms that nearly three quarters of secondary education teachers say school lessons are the most important way to teach children about sexual exploitation. Messages about healthy relationships and risky behaviour can be taught through Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) and Sex and Relationship Education (SRE). Topics that can be explored include: respect and responsibilities, understanding of dangerous and exploitative situations, exploring gender stereotypes and gender roles and assessing risk and its consequences. The video ‘Exploited’ which was released in 2012 is an excellent tool that helps teach young people about exploitative friendships. Produced by CEOP with support from a range of national partners including the NSPCC, Brook, the Sex Education Forum and Barnardo’s, the video follows the story of fictional teenager Whitney to explore how children and young people can be made vulnerable to sexual abuse, highlighting the grooming and manipulation techniques used by abusers.

    For teachers, knowing how to recognise the signs of CSE plays an important part in its prevention. Young people who are being sexually exploited may be involved in gangs, hang around with older groups of people or have older boyfriends or girlfriends. They may regularly go missing or be away from school for long periods of time. By giving our teachers the skills to identify those most vulnerable and engage them in discussion about their experiences we are able to protect them from any further longer lasting damage. The NSPCC’s Protect and Respect Service, launched in 2011, is open to children and teenagers aged 10 to 19, and works with teachers, police officers, nurses and youth workers to identify and support youngsters who have been sexually exploited or are at risk of falling victim. The service has directly helped 1,866 children and young people so far, including 1,493 children between the ages of 10 and 15.

    There’s also positive news from the Government, who are taking further steps to support the cause. Ministers have pledged an extra £40 million to help agencies do more to fight sexual abuse, trafficking and exploitation. The drive includes the launch of a new centre of expertise and plans to create a new national database of missing people.

    CSE Girl ImageConcerned about CSE among students in your school?
    E-safety Support can help.
    Developed by Tim Pinto, e-safety consultant and member of the Educational Advisory Board for CEOP, our CSE training course explores the stages of CSE and how to recognise it. It is available for distribution exclusively to our Premium Plus members.

    Not sure if your school has the right policies in place to deal with any risks associated with CSE?
    Our CSE checklist is available for free when you sign up for a free E-safety Support membership - this also includes access to a selection of e-safety resources along with previews of all the online training courses.

    Written by Safeguarding Essentials on June 15, 2017 09:02

    No Tech 4 Breck Day

    The Breck Foundation are proud to announce their new challenge - No Tech 4 Breck Day


    Breck FoundationThe Breck Foundaton have launched this awareness fundraiser to help promote safe and moderate use of technology by young and old people alike.

    In today’s world, so much of what we do online not only offers opportunities and helps us to be efficient and communicate more readily, but overuse can also cause loss of quality free time, relaxation, sound sleep and used without education and caution can become a danger.

    In their efforts to raise awareness of the very real dangers our young people face online every day from online bullies and predators, the Breck Foundation hope to see family and friends together have a day off technology between 9th February (Safer Internet Day) and 17th March, which would have been Breck’s 17th birthday.

    They are encouraging everyone to find ways to enjoy each other without the gadgets in our hands. Make plans the day before to meet up, go for a walk, cook a meal or bake a cake together or just play board games or playing cards. Spend time ‘being’ and just being together.

    The Breck Foundation was formed to share awareness of the dangers of online predators who may bully, groom or sexually exploit our children online through lies, manipulation and control. The predator can say anything and be anyone behind a screen which can lead to a false sense of security. A predator will spend months or years befriending young people online until they are able to convince a child to do something they wouldn’t normally do.

    This can happen to boy and girls, young and old, rich or poor, happy or sad, and anywhere in between. A predator will stop at nothing to get to the child they want. The Breck Foundation are striving to bring about awareness so that everyone from teachers, police, social workers, health professionals, parents and children are educated and empowered to make the right choices to stay safer online.



    The Breck Foundation is raising awareness for playing safe whilst using the internet. Breck Bednar was a 14 year old boy, from Caterham, Surrey, who loved technology and on-line gaming. He was groomed via the internet and sadly murdered on February 17th 2014 by someone he met on-line. This foundation has been set up in his memory to help other young people to enjoy playing on-line but to be aware of some simple rules to stay safe. Remembering that the friends you make on-line are not like your real friends. “Play Virtual/Live Real”.​

    If you would like to be involved in No Tech 4 Breck day, you can download a sponsor form here

    Written by Safeguarding Essentials on March 14, 2016 14:42


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