Education, a key to cope with online extremism and radicalisation

From policy makers to parents and young people, online extremism is one of the most debated concerns in the international environment. In line with identifying best practices to tackle the issue, various Member States have concluded that education is, once again, key to opening up the minds of children in today's Europe and further avoiding the dissemination of hate speech and radicalisation, while promoting a better understanding of these online risks.

Specifically, the UK government has recently launched a website aiming to help tackling extremism in an educative manner. The website ‘educate against hate' aims to provide practical advice for parents, teachers and school leaders on protecting children from extremism and radicalisation. The essence of this resource seeks to avoid superfluous discussions in schools, while also encouraging positive debate by providing information on the warning signs of radicalisation, and advice on how parents should talk to their children about extremism.
 
Considering that online extremism varies from far-right issues to specific manifestations according to the profile of particular problems that countries in Europe are dealing with, it is important to provide clear channels to communicate and report such online content, especially since Safer Internet Centres (SICs) and helplines are increasingly encountering such situations. Back in 2015 for example, Online extremism and radicalisation was a focus topic of the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) bulletin, which included some specific examples from SICs in Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden and the UK.
 
Throughout Europe, various initiatives and discussions have also placed a spotlight on online radicalisation, such as the No Hate Speech Movement of the European Council. This campaign was also featured in a blog posting on the Better Internet for Kids portal on the occasion of European Action Day for Human Rights Online on 10 December 2015.
Furthermore, as online extremism has become an intrinsic topic when referring to a safe online environment, it was also a subject of debate during a recent Insafe Training Meeting. During the meeting, Insafe network members discussed the need to foster further debate and sharing of resources regarding the current situation of online extremism among children and young people in their countries, in order to work together to identify efficient methods to prevent its propagation.
 
For further reading, see the London Grid for Learning resource on providing a counter-narrative on extremist views expressed online, useful guidance provided by the UK government, and more information on No Hate Speech campaign coordinators from the Council of Europe Member States.

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Focus topic: Online extremism and radicalisation

Online extremism is an issue which is getting a great deal of attention at present. The fear that young people could be groomed online by violent extremists and terrorists and encouraged to leave their home countries in order to join IS (Islamic State) in Iraq or Syria is a concern, another fear is that, through immersion in violent extremist cyberspaces, vulnerable young people could also be radicalised to carry out attacks in their home countries.

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