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Preventing violent youth radicalization

By Aikaterini Michailaki RJ4All Project Officer, Nov 2021

Radicalization of youth populations across global cultural communities has led to the creation of a pool of candidates vulnerable to recruitment by extremist organizations. Upon closer examination of the phenomenon, radicalisation appears to entail many different forms, developing and shifting its approach and values. Academics have long used historical and psychological analyses to explain the process of radicalisation. Some use linear approaches, while others shift focus to the isolation of vulnerable groups to radicalisation. These models offer valuable insight into how radicalisation as a broader concept operates, and consequently, how we can mitigate its growth. There are various push and pull factors that draw individuals into a path of violent radicalisation and away from mainstream society. Research based on radicalisation processes have revealed push and pull factors to be an interaction between individual, psychological traits, social and political factors, ideological and religious dimensions, cultural identity, traumatic experiences and group dynamics. The factors vary depending on the individual and are often a cumulative process taking place simultaneously on micro-, meso- and macro-level.

Over the last years, numerous actions regarding prevention violent radicalization and extremism have be conducted. Most of these CVE programmes aim to minimize risk factors in certain environments; however, when it comes for young people alternative approaches are necessary. A more positive intervention which increases resilience and enhance a positive identity formation needs to be adopted. Prevention of youth violent radicalization entails activities that increase the protective factors and articulate the values and practices of restorative justice. These values are generally promoted through group participation such as community engagement, education, dialogue, etc.

The academia as well as officials very often frame youth as people at risk or vulnerable groups towards to be more receptive to extremist ideologies or to join extremist group (even without actually embed the ideology). However, these approaches not only miss to recognize the opportunity that youth provides by being a part of the solution, but sometimes they seem to enforce social divide or stigmatization by targeting certain identity or religious groups. Young people can be a key in policies of prevention of radicalisation not only by giving us the perspectives or the perceptions of numerous counter-radicalisation or prevention measures but also by actually embed and enhance the protective values against extremist ideologies and empowerment of youth resilience.

Restorative Justice for All research center focuses on youth violent radicalisation and has contributed on numerous programmes funded by European Commission in order to enhance a positive policy prevention framework for tackling and preventing violent radicalisation. Under the values of Restorative Justice, RJ4All works on the strengthening of the resilience of young people and the enrichment of their talents and skills. The aim of this positive approach is to support the development of a positive identity formation. Under this umbrella, the European Commission funded the project “Mobilising against Extremism through Countering and Diverting Radicalisation of Young People (RADEX)”, which till 2023 will have created a full suite of educational resources containing research findings and best approaches on youth radicalisation. RADEX will make an impact on preventing and diverting violent radicalisation, as it will equip professionals with the tools needed to identify patterns, methods, and different processes of youth radicalisation. Under this programme a positive approach will embed by enhancing young people’s critical thinking, strengths and skills.


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