If you’re concerned about someone, it’s important to keep an eye out for changes in behaviour that could indicate they may be vulnerable to violent extremism. The earlier a shift in identity or behaviour is recognised the better the chances of diversion and disengagement.

There is, however, no definitive check list of signs that suggest extremist interest, as changes often occur in people’s identity and behaviour. Significant shifts in identity are common (especially among teenagers) and are not necessarily a significant problem. Some of the signs below could describe someone on the path towards violent extremism. On the other hand they could also describe the behaviour of someone in another type of difficulty (depression or teenage angst for example), or someone simply going through a life change (new school, etc.).

The below is a list of some potential indicators may indicate someone needs help, but remember, if it has come to your attention that a person may be already be considering undertaking an act of violence, then you must immediately report this to the police or the National Security Hotline.

Some potential behavioural changes of concern could include:

  • Loneliness, withdrawal or isolation
  • Feelings of helplessness or defeat
  • Increased anger or frustration
  • Showing intense political, ideological or religious interest
  • Reading, watching or listening to violent content
  • Looking at material associated with a violent extremist group online
  • Sympathising, or identifying with, extremist ideology and groups
  • Adhering to an ‘ us versus them’ mentality, often with clear ‘enemies’
  • Using confrontational language
  • Arguing with those around them based on their new ideas or behaviour

Often combined with;

  • Advocating violence and aggressive behaviour as a means to achieve change.

You may also notice other things that are concerning, but are not listed above. Even if you’re unsure whether someone is vulnerable to extremism, you should reach out for help as soon as possible to discuss your concerns further, and to connect with available support in your community.

For more information or to talk through your concerns with our helpline support workers, call Step Together on 1800 875 204 on Monday to Friday, between 9am and 5pm.

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