It is “not possible” to profile children at risk of radicalisation, Cafcass claims.
In an analysis of 54 family cases, the organisation found that many of the children in question were not “outwardly vulnerable to the extent that they or their family were known to the local authority”.
There is “a high degree of complexity involving a broad range of push and pull factors” when it comes to radicalisation, the report said, and this makes creating a profile of vulnerable children impossible.
Extremist groups used similar methods to recruit boys as street gangs, according to the report. However, this was not the case among girls. In fact, the radicalisation of girls in recent years was “like nothing seen before”. Cafcass found that many of the girls who ended up before the family court in these cases were intelligent, highly motivated and did well in school.
Travel was the most common factor used in these cases to establish when a local authority should step in. There were two considerations when considering travel. Firstly, how likely was it? The second was what the potential impact such travel would have on the child in question.
Richard Green is national child care policy manager at Cafcass. He explained that “the type of radicalisation concerns we are now seeing might appear to be a new phenomenon, especially references to so-called IS”. However, local authorities should approach the matter in the same way they would in any other child safeguarding case.
Last month, the NSPCC launched a 24-hour helpline for parents who are concerned their children may become radicalised.
Read the full Cafcass study here.