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Causes of
Online Radicalization

Children and youth can be radicalized for a variety of reasons. There is no one cause of radicalization, nor is there a single path to extremism. Radicalization is often due to several issues that someone is facing in their life.  It’s important to recognize that most people do not become extremists, and none of these causes will necessarily lead to radicalization. If you see these warning signs, it is best to talk with your child first. Below are some 

  • Loss and Trauma. sudden disruptions in life can leave someone feeling vulnerable and powerless. The reason for the trauma could be big or small, but the point is that they feel that they have lost control. Extremists often prey on these insecurities by offering a false sense of purpose.


  • Isolation. Feeling like one doesn’t belong or has no friends, family or community to talk to may lead some people towards extremist groups who offer a false sense of “family”.


  • Confusion. People have been facing numerous upheavals recently, from COIVD-19 to political violence, to climate issues and more. These are difficult, complex issues.  Extremist beliefs offer simple solutions that can “fix” these problems.


  • Anger.  When people feel like they have lost something- status, power, things they were promised- they may look for easy answers or a scapegoat to blame their problems on.


  • Rebellion. Rebelling against one’s parents is a natural, and sometimes healthy, part of growing up and establishing one’s own individuality. However, rebellion can become a problem when it involves hateful and bigoted rhetoric.


  • Curiosity. Boredom and curiosity about certain subjects can lead some people into online spaces that increasingly radicalize them. This curiosity is usually coupled with one of the other causes mentioned here, and the extremist views a person has found may give them an emotionally rewarding topic to indulge in further.

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