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What parents need to know about their teens being lured to ISIS

There’s something attractive about the bad-boy persona. They’re often thought of as wearing leather jackets and riding motorcycles; they’ve got a brooding demeanour or a carefree attitude. They’re the boys we know we’d be better off without. But what’s appealing about a bad boy with bloodlust?

Even amid the risk of rape, beheadings and death, young Australian women are reportedly being lured to war-torn Syria to potentially bag a bad-boy jihadist.

They’re the claims of deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism for the NYPD, John Miller, who suggests ISIS founder, Omar al-Baghdadi, lures Western women by promising a jihadist husband or partner.

The Institute of Strategic Dialogue says approximately 550 Western women have so far packed their bags and made their way to Syria in support of ISIS, potentially in search of a man to call their own.

The foreign minister, Julie Bishop, says up to 40 Australian women have become jihadi brides and are fighting alongside ISIS in Iraq and Syria or are even supporting them from here.

“More women are either joining their foreign fighter husbands or apparently seeking to find partners, the so-called jihadi brides are otherwise providing support for terrorist organisations,” Ms. Bishop said.

CCTV footage of three young girls has been released of three girls who fled England for Syria to become jihadi brides. They were just 15 and 16 years old.

But while the biggest numbers come out of the U.S. and the U.K., Australian women are also packing their bags. In December of last year, a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old were reportedly the first Australian women to board a plane for Syria to become jihadi brides themselves.

“They are seemingly young Australians who think they are going off on an adventure — well, they’re not. They’re joining terrorist organisations that are carrying out shockingly brutal attacks,” Bishop said of the situation at the time.

It’s a scary thought just imagining what these young girls are doing. But these are conversations worth having. Here are just some ideas of how to see the signs and stop young girls from being lured by the idea of becoming jihadi brides.

  • Talk about healthy relationships — what they are and aren’t — and gauge how they feel about what they want from their own relationships.
  • Ask for support and guidance from local leaders in the community who mirror your own ideals and values.
  • Be aware of how and when they are using social media, who are they talking to and what their body language and attitude is like after using social media.
  • Engage in a dialogue about current issues to better understand their personal beliefs and opinions.

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