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 of one of the largest scientific studies on violent youth radicalisation across 7 European countries: United Kingdom, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Sweden, Portugal and Romania. At the conference, young people from around the world send a clear message to governments and the European Union “Stop managing us as if we are risks!”

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.

Education is the key, the biggest tool to help prevent violent youth radicalisation, creating soft power which reduces the fears and insecurities discussed previously. A very important role can be played as well by the new generations. The IARS international Institute, whose main goal, as stated by founder Prof. Theo Gravrielides, is “bringing young people together with a stronger collective voice to push for greater equality and social justice”, promoted a huge participation into the debate of many young people directly involved into the parallel workshops and initiatives organised in the framework of the International conference.

To contribute to the intellectual outputs of the Youth Empowerment and Innovation Project (YEIP), IARS organised a 99% Campaign writing competition. This year, young researcher Amanda Blackhurst (USA) received the award with her research: The Role of YouTube Algorithms in Online Radicalisation.

Amanda Blackhurst said: “To be selected as the winner of the IARS 2020 Writing Competition has been a great honour, as there were so many worthy candidates who wrote about interesting and pressing topics. It’s essential that young people feel like their voices and opinions are heard, especially on topics that concern them, such as youth radicalisation. Thank you to IARS for their commitment to provide a platform for young people to feel empowered and heard.”

The YEIP project created a 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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