12 Signs of Cult Involvement in Your Child: A Career Coach’s Guide to Supporting Their Future

1. What are some signs a young person might be involved in a cult?

2. Why would a career coach be interested in cult involvement?

3. What should I do if I suspect a young person is in a cult?

4. How can I help someone who might be involved in a cult?

5. What are some resources for getting help with cults?

see all the answers below

As a career coach, you often wear many hats. You help young people identify their strengths and chart their career paths. However, your role can extend beyond career guidance. Sometimes, you might notice concerning changes in a student’s behaviour that could indicate involvement with a cult. 

Understanding the signs of cult involvement is crucial. Early intervention can prevent a young person from getting deeper into a potentially harmful situation. Here are twelve key behaviours to watch out for:

1. Sudden Personality Shifts: A previously outgoing child becomes withdrawn, or a quiet child suddenly exhibits a flamboyant personality. These changes can indicate exposure to a group’s ideology and pressure to conform.

What are some signs a young person might be involved in a cult?

Changes in behavior, like isolation from friends, fixation on a new group, or odd sleep patterns could be signs.

2. Isolation from Existing Friends and Family: Cults often create a sense of “us vs. them,” discouraging contact with anyone outside the group. You might notice your students dropping old friends, becoming secretive about their activities, or showing disinterest in family gatherings.

3. Fixation on a New Group or Leader:  They might constantly talk about this group or leader, idealising them and readily accepting their teachings without question. 

Why would a career coach be interested in cult involvement?

Career coaches often build trusting relationships and might notice these changes before someone else.

4. Changes in Dress or Appearance:  Cults often have specific dress codes or encourage a certain appearance. Look for sudden changes in clothing style,  hairstyles,  or the adoption of specific symbols associated with the group.

5. Uncharacteristic Use of Drugs or Alcohol:  Cults may use drugs or alcohol to control members or create a sense of dependence. 

6. Pressure to Recruit Others: Your student might try to convince you or their peers to join the group, using high-pressure tactics or painting a negative picture of their current life. 

What should I do if I suspect a young person is in a cult?

Stay calm, avoid judgment, and listen openly. Consider seeking professional help from a cult expert or therapist.

7. Obsessive Focus on Conspiracy Theories:  Cults often promote a sense of paranoia and distrust towards outsiders. Be wary if your student starts believing in elaborate conspiracies or becomes suspicious of everyone who doesn’t belong to their group.

8. Financial Strain: Cults often demand money from members through donations, fees, or mandatory purchases. Be aware of unexplained financial difficulties or requests for loans.

9. Changes in Sleep Patterns:  Sudden changes in sleep schedules, either excessive fatigue or difficulty sleeping, could indicate demanding activities or indoctrination sessions within the group. 

How can I help someone who might be involved in a cult?

Be supportive and maintain open communication. Encourage them to stay connected with friends and family.

10. Devaluing Education or Career Goals:  Cults may downplay the importance of education or traditional career paths, encouraging members to dedicate their lives to the group’s cause. 

11. Fear of Leaving or Negative Talk about Former Members:  The group may instil fear of leaving or spread negative propaganda about those who have left. Watch for anxiety or defensiveness when discussing the group.

12. Controlling Communication:  The group may restrict communication methods or monitor phone calls and internet activity. You might notice your student becoming secretive about their online activity or changing their phone number frequently.

What are some resources for getting help with cults?

The guide mentions contacting a cult expert or therapist specialising in cult recovery.

How to Help:

If you suspect your student is involved with a cult, don’t panic. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Open Communication: Talk to your student calmly and carelessly. Avoid accusations or judgment.  Listen to their concerns and try to understand their perspective.
  • Gather Information: Research the group and learn about their tactics. 
  • Seek Professional Help:  Consider contacting a cult expert or therapist specialising in helping people recover from cult involvement.
  • Maintain Support System:   Encourage your students to maintain connections with supportive friends and family members who can offer them a safe space.

From the information provided, how comfortable would you feel talking to a young person about your concerns regarding a group they might be involved with?

Remember, your role is to guide and support your students. By understanding the signs of cult involvement, you can play a vital role in protecting their well-being and helping them build a fulfilling future.

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Sam Soyombo
Sam Soyombo

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  1. This is a great resource for understanding the signs of cult involvement in young people. The article offers valuable insights on how to approach someone who may be involved in a cult. Previously, I would ignore them, but this article has enlightened me to the importance of listening with an open mind and offering help.

  2. The mistake we make as individuals is that we tend to neglect this young once who actually find their ways in this act. Even personally, I tend not to relate my self with this individual’s because of what the society will say.
    We tend not to show care to these people. Religion belief most times is what is affecting us, because you feel this person is a child of the world or is involved negative act we tend to abandon them.

    This blog has educated me on how to relate with people, treating them with love.

    A big thank you to the writer for sharing these impactful thoughts.

  3. This is an eye-opener, thanks for sharing and I haven’t really dealt with any child involved in cultism before now: perhaps, this post has just equipped me for the future.

  4. Thank you, Sam, for your insightful article on recognizing signs of cult involvement in young people. As a career coach, I appreciate the guidance on how to identify concerning behaviors, such as sudden personality shifts, isolation, and fixation on a new group or leader. Your advice on approaching the situation with open communication, seeking professional help, and maintaining a support system is invaluable.

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