European youth voices at International conference on violent youth radicalisation

Over the last 3 years Khulisa has had the honour of working with 18 partners across 7 EU countries to construct & test an innovative, policy and practice intervention aimed at preventing radicalisation. During the course of the Youth Empowerment and Innovation Project we engaged with 3540 individuals in 7 countries aged between 16 and 78 to capture their attitudes and knowledge about radicalisation while testing innovative tools aimed at addressing violent radicalisation through positive psychology and the application of the Good Lives Model with 354 practitioners & 195 policy makers.

Last month the IARS International Institute and the YEIP partnership launched the findings (available here) of one of the largest scientific studies on violent youth radicalisation across 7 European countries: United Kingdom, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Sweden, Portugal and Romania.

The YEIP International Conference “Addressing Violent Youth Radicalisation in Europe”, hosted by the University of East London’s School of Psychology, brought together over 120 people including the Home Office, the Italian Ministry, policy makers and young people. A range of other professionals including politicians, policy makers, researchers, experts and scholars debated on the issue of violent youth radicalisation. Keynote speakers included the European Commission, public authorities from participating countries as well as prominent academics.

Dr. Theo Gavrielides, IARS Founder and a Professor at UEL said:

“It is with great pride that I saw our young people and many policy makers from around Europe coming together in unity to find new, positive ways forward to address the increasing phenomenon of hate. It is with trust and solidarity that we can address marginalisation and violent radicalisation not harsher punishments and the narrative of division”.

The YEIP project highlighted the attitudes, experience and knowledge of young Europeans, youth workers and other practitioners. This was also accompanied with a testing of innovative tools for addressing the phenomenon of youth radicalisation, and a tackling of this issue amongst marginalised groups.

As opposed to the current approach underpinning criminal justice rehabilitation and offender management, the YEIP project proposes interventions based on the framework of positive psychology, and the strengths based Good Lives Model, as a better form model of de-radicalisation.

In the UK , research for the project was completed in four fields of interest, namely; schools, prisons, universities and online. The first stage of the project consisted of a literature review examining the state of the evidence around the UK’s approach to preventing violent radicalisation as well as any use of positive approaches such as the Good Lives model (GLM) and restorative justice in current practice.

Using the findings of this work package, the second phase of the project consisted of field research with young people aimed at exploring young people’s views on belonging, discrimination and violent radicalisation. In the UK 65% of young people felt that they had been treated unfairly due to who they are. The main reasons they cited for discrimination included:

  • physical appearance (50 %),
  • personality (43%)
  • gender (43 %)
  • sexual orientation (39%)

The project found through the literature review and the research with young people that education was the biggest tool to help prevent violent youth radicalisation, creating soft power which reduces the fears and insecurities discussed previously. Young people were clear throughout the research  that education, relocation, or having more control over their future were some of the key solutions to their problems.

The last phase of the project sought to test the toolkit developed in the field trials through capacity building of professionals working in the selected environments in the UK. At Khulisa we trained professionals who worked within the criminal justice system.

Our research highlighted a  great appetite for training on how to prevent radicalisation among professionals working in the criminal justice system. While some of the professionals Khulisa trained may not have been able to identify some of the asset-based theories, like restorative justice, the good lives model and  positive psychology, which underpinned the YEIP training before we trained them, we found this group of practitioners shared many of the underlying principles.

The YEIP project created a range of different tools, including training, books, and toolkits to help policy makers, both nationally and internationally form more effective policies to tackle violent youth radicalisation. The materials are all available here: https://yeip.org/

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