Violent extremist groups can become attractive to individuals that are vulnerable or lonely. They can be drawn to these groups by being made to feel like they have found a place with a sense of belonging and adventure, where they feel empowered. For some, it can even feel like they have found a new family to share their lives with. The following factors have been identified as increasing an individual's risk of radicalisation:
- Struggling with their sense of identity;
- Questioning their place in society;
- Family issues;
- Experiencing a traumatic event;
- Experiencing discrimination;
- Difficulty in interacting socially and lacking empathy;
- Difficulty in understanding the consequences of their actions;
- Low self-esteem.
There is no single way of spotting radicalisation, you could spot one of the signs, or a combination of signs. What might be most important is responding to changes or behaviours that concern you.
The following behaviours may indicate other underlying issues or challenges, but importantly can be signs that an individual is becoming radicalised:
- Ignoring or demonising viewpoints that contradict their own;
- Expressing themselves in an 'us' versus 'them' manner;
- Justifying the use of violence or expressing a desire for revenge;
- Increasingly secretive about who they are talking to;
- Changing their circle of friends;
- Losing interest in activities they once enjoyed;
- Becoming socially withdrawn or spending a lot of time online;
- Belief in conspiracy theories and distrust of mainstream media.