In light of the recent Brussels attacks, it is more important than ever that we take a look at what radicalisation means and how you can explain these shocking events to your children.
You’ve probably heard the word being used a lot in recent times. ‘Radicalisation’ has come to describe the process which people go through when they’re slowly falling for harmful ideas. These are usually interpretations of religion or politics which result in damaging their lives and the lives of others.
Just like any process that leads to crime, there isn’t one way in which it happens – but we have to try and observe common patterns to ensure that young people explore their potential and don’t fall into the trap.
Odara mums always talk about how important is for children to feel safe and happy to share their thoughts with their family. It’s important for children to have a safe environment to turn to – a place where they can tell their true feelings and be accepted.
It’s also essential that they engage critically and question everything they see. When kids think something is simply black and white, they are more susceptible to intolerance and radicalisation. They should be made aware of diversity in national, regional, religious and ethnic identities, as well as the diversity in how politics and societies work.
Your children have so much potential. Show them ways to feel empowered and hopeful, so they can make their footprint on earth special.
When terrible things happen, it’s likely that your child will hear about it through their peers or through school, so sheltering them completely is not an option.
As Siobhan Freegard, founder of Channel Mum, says: “Simple age appropriate answers are best and don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’. Agree that is sad and tragic and not something you are able to fix. It actually helps children to understand these complex issues if they know there isn’t an easy answer.” She adds: “What we don’t want to do is create a modern day boogie man, so don’t frighten them with dark explanations.”
Sometimes it can be confusing dealing with young people. Trust me, I know! So the following SAFE steps may be useful:
Search for hidden questions or fears. Understand their surroundings and pay a genuine interest in their hopes and worries.
Give them something to do, so they can visualise their own power to make a change. This can be a small thing like helping an elderly neighbour and recognising them for it. It will reduce their sense of helplessness.
Sit down with them and break down what it is that’s bothering them. Don’t shut down or belittle their feelings. Listen and find solutions to reassure them.
Ease their mind and show that they are in a safe place.
We hope this is practical and useful for your approach, but don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any more questions about it!
It goes without saying that if you have concerns about your child you should reach out to us, their schools or local public services such as the police who can refer you to a trained expert who will help you gain access to support and advice.
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