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Intimate bystanders – such as family members, siblings, spouses, and parents – of individuals at risk of radicalizing to extremism play an important role in preventing targeted violence and terrorist attacks. Families can help with deradicalization and disengagement or involve practitioners when concerned for the safety of their loved one and others. In a study that relied on first-hand, in-depth interviews with family members of violent extremists, researchers identified observed risk and protective factors. Overall, researchers observed that early experiences with environmental adversity (childhood physical/sexual/emotional abuse, parental incarceration, parental abandonment, household substance abuse, mental health problems, etc.) and conduct problems during adolescence (academic failure, truancy, gang involvement, police interactions/arrest history, problems with alcohol, theft, etc.) were the most prevalent risk factors reported by families. This document provides an overview of those indicators and information on how to report concerning behavior should you suspect someone you know to be radicalizing.

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