Preventing violent extremism (PVE) is a multi-generational challenge in waging peace, and to do it properly, communities will need to rely on the resilience of youth.
This means empowering youth populations raging roughly from ages 9-17.
Let us explain
Traditional PVE watering holes look at professionals and others who have access to youth communities. These normally consist of health care professionals, social workers, law enforcement, educators, judicial representatives, parents and so forth.
Youth resilience offers another component to PVE. It looks to empower and engage the young people who are targets of extremist ideology. As important as it is to activate awareness and intervention among traditional authority figures, it’s also a sound strategy to speak to inform and amplify the voices and build generations inoculated as best as possible against ideological extremism.
The range of dialogue also has to cater to the capacity of youth voices. An emerging concept in youth resilience involves cultivating skills within a younger demographic.
What does that look like?
Youth resilience normally begins in 4th grade, around the age of nine. This stage involves laying the groundwork that can continue to be built as the child matures. While older youth are actively trained in hate resistance and educated in ideological theories, this younger, more vulnerable age group has a different focus — that of understanding and practicing shifting perspectives, cultivating emotional intelligence, and teaching dialogue-building skills.
Understanding extremism and being fluent in being able to identify rhetoric and rituals used by recruiters in luring youth is a strategic component of “waging peace.” It is also a pillar of preventing violent extremism.
Waging peace in this regard means amplifying the ability of communities to fight against erosion of the individual and the group. It means not only making youth aware but also including them in the training processing, helping them discover they have a voice and teaching them how to wield that voice.