Since the conflict in Syria began in 2011, it is thought that hundreds of young people have travelled from the UK to the region. Recently we have seen cases of children as young as 14 attempting to make the journey. For many, this is a one-way ticket. It’s vital that we as parents understand the risks our children face and are able to engage with them in order to have a frank, honest conversation about this complicated subject. The following information will help you understand the issues and how you can help your children if they need it.
What is the risk?
It is estimated that 500 young British Muslims have travelled to the region since the conflict began, including around 70 girls.
Extremists target impressionable young people through social media and the internet to influence their minds using the same tactics as sexual predators.
Their message can have a powerful impact on someone who’s young, possibly unsure of their path in life, and may lack confidence.
ISIS recruiters have offered cash to British girls as young as 14 to become brides. They tweet pictures of Burger King meals, alongside stirring footage of victory in battle and the heroism of their fighters in an attempt to appeal to both young women and young men.
The theme of adventure, and freedom from parental control has appeal, but the truth is a different matter. Summary executions, squalor and in-fighting are a far cry from the promises made on social media.