If you or another parent have expressed concerns about the possibility of your child being involved in extremism, then it’s time to pay attention.
Making excuses for the racist and other extreme opinions that your child is expressing will not help you, your family or your child.
It is not a phase that they are going through, and I can assure you, it will not just go away.
I can completely understand that it can be hard to communicate these concerns especially if parents disagree.
You may both have conflicting views and opinions on the seriousness of the situation and how to deal with it.
However, Parents are vital to the success of getting your child out of their involvement and back onto a successful path in life.
We will talk later about communication, and we will offer advice on ways in which you can communicate with the other parent successfully.
But let’s start with you or the other parent suspecting your child be involved.
You’ve already read about the signs of involvement and many of them may currently appear very similar to your own child’s behaviour.
You may not have noticed any of these signs and think that the other parent is overreacting.
Parents may have separated, and we understand not all relationships end on a positive note.
If the child resides with the other parent some of these behaviours may not be familiar to you, however, if one parent expresses concern, please do not dismiss them just because you haven’t witnessed it first-hand. Children can be very good at hiding things when they choose.
Ask the other parent why they have these concerns and pay attention to what they are saying.
No parent wants to believe that their child has extreme views and hateful opinions, and it would have taken a lot of courage for them to voice their concerns in the first place, accepting it can be equally as difficult.
However, as I previously said, burying your head in the sand will not help matters.
Allow yourself some time to take it all in. It's perfectly normal to feel shame, guilt, and even failure. You may even be tempted to want to lash out and blame the other parent. We have all been there I can assure you.
THIS ISN'T YOUR FAULT, you must remember that the only people at fault here are the Far-Right organisations that have exploited your child’s vulnerabilities and introduced your child to their world. These people are everywhere and there is no way of avoiding them, it could be a school friend, they could have met them through social media or even gaming, the list is endless.
You cannot change the past but what you choose to do next can change the future.
Allowing one parent to take responsibility for the situation and deal with it alone will simply not be effective for your child.
Both parents need to take equal responsibility when helping their child out of extremism and both parents’ role is equally important.
If you need help, it is out there. It's entirely up to you who you contact, we don't mind. All we want is for people to get the support they need, either to help people walk away from extremism or if you are a family with a loved one involved, support to understand what is going on and how YOU can help them if you want to, to help them walk away from hate.
The road can be long, with many ups and downs, but people do want to help you.
To get support, you can contact:
Prevent - They offer advice and support and can get your family member a dedicated intervention provider if they are allocated one by a Channel panel, just search Prevent and your town, for details of how to contact someone locally.
Alternatively, there is Act Early – https://actearly.uk here you can get advice or just have a simple chat with someone who understands. and then of course there is our team over at Exit Hate.
At Exit Hate www.exithate.org we offer support from people who have lived experience of how involvement in extremism impacts people's lives. We have Formers who have been there and done it and family members who have had a loved one involved, so we get it as we have been through it ourselves. We offer confidential, non-judgmental support and are here because we care.
So have a look at your options and talk to someone, you are not alone.
Sarah - Exit Family Support Worker