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‘Violent extremism’ is a more suited term than ‘radicalisation risk’, as the latter is misleading and uses simplistic language, according to a report by chief social worker Dr Tony Stanley and family group conference manager Lisa Gunstone, of Birmingham Council.
As it stands, ‘radicalisation risk’ is mostly an issue external to parental care and the family home and social workers are not trained to detect radicalising actions or behaviours.
The offer of a Prevent policy has proven to be helpful for many families, yet some decline such an offer, and a referral to children’s social care then follows.
Dr Stanley and Ms Gunstone argue that an additional option in the middle is needed, with a victim’s family network held in mind as a resource.
“We find it uncomfortable to work with risk, as risk. Risk aversion dominates – and we are driven/encouraged to avoid it. Too often families are not helped when this practice dominates,” writes the authors.
“One way to do things differently is to widen the family circle. Not everyone in the family will hold the same views and ideological beliefs.”
A social work system where family and social networks are invited in is required as according to the report, family members have a right to be a part of the decision making of related children and vulnerable adults.
The family group conference (FGC) is a current model that offers a family-focused restorative intervention approach for working with risk.
FGC includes resources within and around the family drawn on to harness safety and strengths to help children and families, by providing a facilitated space for families to discuss and explore options that will help safeguard their young people and children.
Often, FGC is provided when a case is at a risk of radicalisation or extremism, and the Prevent offer has been rejected.
It is hoped that this way, family networks will be brought together to hear concerns and plan the next steps.
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