Best Practice

Safeguarding: Be vigilant for signs of incel culture

So-called ‘incel’ culture and extremism hit the headlines in the UK last year. What do schools need to know and what can they do about it as part of safeguarding work? Hannah Glossop offers some advice

“Incel” culture hit mainstream consciousness last summer with the tragic Plymouth shootings.

An incel – shorthand for involuntary celibate – is a member of an online subculture of people who define themselves as unable to get a romanticor sexual partner despite desiring one.

Incel discussion forums are often characterised by resentment and hatred, misogyny, self-pity, self-loathing, a sense of entitlement to sex, racism, and the endorsement of violence against women and sexually active people.

Like many internet wormholes these forums are riven with conspiracy theories and a complete absence of nuanced and informed debate.

Students being students, they may be intrigued by the subculture and search for information to satisfy their curiosity. For most their interest will be fleeting, but for those who have difficulty forming healthy social attachments and relationships and who have challenging personal lives it could present a real risk. For some of these students, incel culture might provide them with access to a community and a worldview that resonates and offers seemingly straightforward answers to their personal predicaments.

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