COVID-19 and Online Radicalisation

The impact of COVID-19 means that most of us have been spending more time at home over the last year or so, and as a result we’re likely to be online a lot more.

It goes without saying that the online world delivers huge benefits; keeping us connected to family and friends, providing groceries and retail therapy at the click of a button, and it’s a necessity for many children in accessing schoolwork. However, many parents also feel concerned about the kind of content their children are accessing.

Some of this content may be extreme or violent in nature. Although rare, there is a risk that increased online activity and feelings of stress and isolation may be exploited to target vulnerable children and young people directly. Sadly, but perhaps predictably, extremists have been using the COVID-19 outbreak to promote hateful views, whether that’s through spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories blaming a particular group for the virus, or through baseless claims regarding these groups’ responses to it.

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It’s important to safeguard loved ones from a range of online harms, whether that’s child sexual exploitation, fraud, or extremist influences seeking to radicalise vulnerable people.

Teachers, healthcare practitioners, social workers, the police, charities, psychologists and religious leaders work together to safeguard those vulnerable to radicalisation through a safeguarding programme known as Prevent.

Prevent protects people from being drawn into hateful extremism – regardless of the ideology. It works in a similar way to safeguarding processes designed to protect people from gangs, drug abuse, and physical and sexual exploitation.

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