Written by: Zoe Newell
Summary of article: Young people and extremism: a resource pack for youth workers.
British Council, Salto-Youth Cultural Diversity Resource Centre, Erasmus
To effectively address the drivers of violent extremism and promote peace, youth must be engaged as
partners in the design and implementation of relevant programs and policies.
Terrorist attacks in Europe in 2015-2016 have increased concern at levels of extremism. Right-wing
extremist violence remains a significant threat to security across European states, which has left
Governments, policy makers and young people themselves all concerned.
The Paris Declaration has emphasized the role of education, along with the need for co-operation
across the EU’s member states, to ensure that ‘Children and young people acquire social, civic and
intercultural competences, by promoting democratic values and fundamental rights, social inclusion
and non-discrimination, as well as active citizenship.
In April 2016, 24 youth workers, community workers, activists and policymakers from 14 European
states gathered in Paris to attend a seminar. The Seminar’s objectives were to:
• Identify and understand the causes of extremism and radicalization
• Recognize the importance of dialogue on the concept of citizenship and to explore questions of
identity, including religious and political beliefs
• Equip participants with the ability to identify those most at risk and with tools to respond to
different levels of extremism and radicalization
• Design and implement activities using the Erasmus framework to help young people a risk from
extremism and radicalization
This resource pack builds on the content of the seminar and aims to provide theoretical and
practical support to youth workers and information to policy makers,
youth and education practitioners and other organizations.
In May 2016 the Council of the European Union reiterated both the value of youth work and the role
of the youth sector in an integrated and cross-sectorial approach to preventing and combating
violent radicalization of young people.
This pack aims to help youth workers to increase their understanding of the issues and their
awareness of the complexities. All youth workers should note that there is no ‘one size fits all’
remedy that will stop young people being involved in extremism. However this resource focuses on
youth work as a practice that can enable workers to respond to the risks of young people becoming
involved. It highlights civic youth work as a specific approach that can help in reducing the risk
as well as demonstrating that having a better understanding of young people can help us to better
This section of the report purposes how Youth Workers should aim to understand young people as best
as possible as professionals, they need to connect with young people in ways that help them to
learn how they make sense of extremism including violent extremis. This resource packs begins with
an analysis of the different ways in which young people are perceived in society and how this can
influence our engagement with them.
It also proposes action research and offers ideas, examples and practical techniques through which
youth workers, community workers and policy workers can engage young people with challenging
questions and to better understand the context in which young people are living in. The pack also
includes questions to aid critical reflection alongside each section, a number of case studies,
tools and practical ideas you can implement in your own work.
Further resources including more case studies and tools are available on the SALTO CD website:
Part 1: Perspectives of young people
Young people through the centuries have been the target of commentators keen to pin all of
societies ills on them. The pack offers 4 different ways in which, youth workers and people
involved in non formal education can view young people, the first three of which, are
characteristics of a deficit model where young people are viewed as in some way deficient and where
chronological age dictates development.
These viewpoints are noticeable in media representations where young people are described in
negative terms more often than positive. Research has found that media has in particular connected
young teenage boys to issues of crime more than half the time. Such demonization can create a sense
of moral panic about the ‘youth of today’.
The perspectives of young people:
Vulnerable: deficit model; young people are susceptible to various dangers and risks; they need to
be kept safe.
Problem: deficit model; young people are trouble makers and are deviant, they can cause harm to
others and are a threat to society
Consumer: deficit model; young people are not ready to contribute in Society; they are ‘empty
vessels’ awaiting the deposit of information; they are the future
Co-creator: Asset based; young people have the capacity to create, contribute and make a difference
The last perspective listed in the table opposite-which views young people as co- creators-forms
the foundation for this resource pack. It supports approaches that are based on working
partnerships with young people. Such approaches can be used to address risks from extremism and
radicalization, by recognizing that young people can and must be part of the solution.
Part 2: Understanding the Cause of Extremism
In this section the report aims to explore what factors are involved in influencing young people to
participate in extremism, particularly violent extremism. It focuses on understanding some of the
realities that young people face.
Different perspectives may inform our views of-and actions towards-young people. This resource pack
acknowledges the very real challenges young people face and how different perspectives can change
societies view of young people. Therefor this pack aims to promote the view that is much more
constructive to treat young people as potential agents of positive change.
What are the main types of violent extremism?
Left wing violence:
Violent acts committed by anti-capitalist groups in order to transform political systems
Right wing violent acts:
Committed by far-right groups often referred to as ‘neo-Nazi’ groups motivated by racism and a
desire to defend supposed racial supremacy.
Religiously motivated violence:
Violent acts committed by extremist Islamic movements, which often have specific grievances against
Western governments in relation to foreign policy
Issue based violence:
Violence carried out by groups concerned with a single issue such as abortion or homosexuality
What do we mean by extremism and radicalism?
Terminology is crucial in preparing for successful engagement with young people. An extremist can
be described as ‘someone who has extreme opinions, especially in politics’. A radical is someone
who favors far-reaching social and political reform.
It is when violence is involved that these definitions begin to shift their emphasis- and it is
worth recognizing that on their own, radical opinions or ideas are not considered problematic.
No definition for radicalization has been universally adopted and it has been described in numerous
ways by various organizations; some denote it with reference purely to Islamic terrorism, while
others look at it more broadly.
The CPRLV summarizes violent radicalization as:
• The adoption of an ideology whose rationale becomes a way of life and a framework for
meaningful action for the individual.
• The belief in the use of violent means to promote a cause
• The merging of ideology and violent action
The term extremism can also be relative; views considered to be threatening to the status quo may
be thought of as extremist views. A challenge that emerges here is that these various terms can be
used in ways that end up labeling certain belief systems of associating them with violence where
there have in fact been no violent actions.
Causes of violent extremism
According to research, the following indicates an increased likelihood of individuals deciding to
involve themselves in a specific campaign of violence:
• The existence of a grievance or perceived injustice by a sub-group of the population.
• Age and gender (terrorist acts are generally committed by young males aged 15-25
• Past family involvement with or support for the movement
• Community support for the insurgent group, or high status associated with membership of the
• Coercion or conscription into the movement
• Eventual membership as a result of an incremental process of increasing acts of insurgence
• Vengeance as the individual feels a need to hit back and right wrongs
• To become a member of an armed group there must be an organization that the individual has the
opportunity to join and that wants his or her membership
What is noticeable from this list is that religion is not included as having a direct casual
relationship with violence. It is also important to note that many experts agree that there is no
single pathway to violent extremism. It may be productive to focus on asking how violence becomes
legitimate in the mind of the perpetrator and to explore political circumstances and the kinds of
political narratives involved.
What do young people get out of involvement in violent extremism?
• A sense of identity, belonging and acceptance; feeling included in a group or may see them as
providing some kind of support
• Security or safety; they may feel safer as a member of a particular grouping
• Status; a sense that they are protecting their family or neighborhood
• Honor and responsibility; a sense of service to the local community or a few of shame
• Legitimization; justification for discriminatory and violent actions towards the enemy can
occur through increased division between ethnic religious communities or political identities.
Anything perceived to threaten that culture or ‘way of life’ reinforces the divide between ‘them’.
• A way out of poverty; particularly for young people living in communities suffering deprivation,
involvement in gangs or paramilitary groups may offer a source of income
• An opportunity to resolve injustices; where the police force is perceived to be
unrepresentative and engaged in unfair practices such as ethnic profiling and their only way to
challenge the inequities or discrimination they experience is through violence.
• An opportunity to fight back; a sense of being part of a broader social conflict
• Revenge; resulting from a very specific incident
• Utopian vision; there is some evidence that young women, particularly young mothers, have been
influenced by a vision of a utopian society e.g this has motivated some women to attempt to travel
to conflict zones such as Syria, in order to join Islamic states state building efforts
• A buzz; the sense of excitement that some young people experience as a result of their
involvement in violence
TERRA is a European project that focuses on preventing radicalization and supporting
de-radicalization. It’s website (http://www.terra-net.eu/index.php) offers materials for professionals to
understand and respond to radicalization. In addition the project has produced a number of short
films with victims of terrorism and former radicalization
Why recruit young people?
The ‘troublemaker’ perspective of young people often dominates discussion of the rationale for
youth recruitment. Research has shown that young people can be viewed as ‘cheap effective, and
It is important to remember that young people are the only true experts when it comes to their own
experiences. Youth workers need to take time to analysis the context and explore how young people
make sense of and experience their locality and society more broadly.
A culture of violence
It is essential to explore the extent in which a culture of violence exists and the extent to which
violence manifests itself in different ways- eg. Domestic violence, hate crime or alcohol related
violence, experiences of intimidation or bullying, public disorder and rioting. It may become
normalized as part of everyday life and accepted as ‘the way things are’; Young people may see
violence as a legitimate way of handling conflict.
The sense of powerlessness experienced by many young people should not be disregarded in terms of
how it motivates some young people to take extreme actions. This reinforces the need to talk openly
and directly with young people about violence.
Enabling young people to teach us what it is like to be a young person in their neighborhood and to
support them to have a sense of ownership of what they want to do in their lives.
A useful tool in reflecting on our local context is action research.
Action research is a process that practitioners can use to examine the interventions they carry out
with young people, and to find ways to enhance them- particularly by
improving the fit with the local context. A further extension of this approach is youth
participatory action research, where young people are directly involved in leading action research
Part 3: How youth work can make a difference
One of the distinct features of youth work and non-formal education is its value base- that is, the
values that inform the way professionals work with young people (such as, diversity, justice and
equity). This sets it apart from other learning approaches.
Key values for work with young people include:
• Respect for people- treating others with dignity and acknowledging the uniqueness of others.
• Promoting of well-being- placing the focus of our work on the welfare of all
• Truth- a commitment to seeking truth, acting with integrity, using an open dialogue and not
teaching what is false.
• Democracy- having a value in terms of working out how we share in a common life and how we can
do so in ways that accommodate differences and address inequalities
• Fairness and equality- ensuring that the relationship we have with young people promotes fair
and equal treatment as well as fair and equal access to opportunities
It is important as youth workers, that they acknowledge that they are role models and recognizing
that they bring their beliefs and values to everything that they do- and these have the potential
to influence young people. It takes an exceptional level of honesty, integrity and moral judgment
to help young people explore their own values and beliefs without imposing your own.
Youth workers acknowledge their role in supporting young people, not only to think about what is
important to them, but also to integrate these values with their sense of self and the people they
want to be in the world.
In order for young people to benefit fully from this process, youth workers must create a safe
environment with the following features:
• Supports young people to be open and honest about themselves;
• Enables them to critically reflect on the ways different identities are interpreted;
• Helps them to wrestle with the tension that can come with holding multiple identities;
• Supports them to name the values they wish to live by.
How ever, supporting young people’s broader social development by providing space to explore
identity is at the heart of youth work.
The THINK project
Ethnic Youth Support Team, Swansea, Wales
The Ethnic Youth Support Team set up the Think Project as a non-confrontational method of
addressing extremism and racism. The project works by offering training over three days for young
people aged 14-25 (particularly those who are not in education, employment or training) and covers
racism, migration, asylum, identity and extremism.
The project does not stigmatize or criminalize young people who exhibit racist language or
opinions. Instead, staff members focus on exploring-without judgment- why those young people feel
that way and where these ideas have come from, as an opening up space for discussion and dialogue.
They then take the opportunity to challenge any misinformation and to provide young people with
positive experiences of diversity, such as volunteering with a black or minority ethnic /refugee
The Think Project also offers a range of training services to professionals including
trainer-training and programmes to address issues such as cultural diversity awareness
islamophobia, forced marriage, honor-based violence, Islamic extremism, racism and far-right
An external evaluation in 2015 found the project had achieved a range of positive outcomes
including providing an effective means for young people to change attitudes and behaviors,
embedding good practice regarding diversity, and developing new ways of tackling the issue of
Civic youth work
Any kind of activity undertaken with others in relation to an issue of public interest or concern
can be considered political activity e.g getting together with others to set up a food bank for
families who are struggling financially. When we do something like this we are not only being
political we are also acting our citizenship.
When applied to youth work, these ideas build further on the perspective that sees young people in
terms of their capacity. Rather than being seen as people who will attain full citizenship once
they are old enough to vote or have acquired certain kinds of knowledge, young people are interpreted
as ‘citizens now’. Through civic youth work young people’s capacity is to be initiators and agents of social change.
Civic youth work can be described as a political approach to youth work. It challenges accepted
social norms and asks questions-such as, ‘what is normal’ and ‘who decides’. Civic youth work also
supports young people to analyze power relationships and challenge power dynamics, particularly in
situations where they feel dis-empowered and to learn what it means to be democratic and to live
Touchstones of civic youth work practice
• The youth worker embodies an on-going invitation to participate
• The youth worker embodies an on-going invitation to work democratically on issues that the
participating young people find meaningful and consequential
• The youth worker approaches young people as willing to work together on public issues
• The youth worker embodies an on-going invitation to work in partnership with young people-
involving them always in analysis, decision-making, action, evaluation, reflection and follow-up
• The youth worker creates space for active citizenship
• The youth worker attends to the extent of each young person’s participation
• The youth worker supports praxis (the application of theoretical learning to day to day practice)
Young people who take part in these kinds of interactions are more sure of who they are are more
aware of each other, the neighborhoods they live in and the world around them. They are learning to
listen to different voices and have understood what it means to collaborate with others. They
demonstrate problem-solving skills and have developed stronger critical thinking skills. Since
these are all attributes that obstruct extremism behaviors, there is a strong case for investing in
initiatives that support civic youth work.
Aware Girls is a non-profit organization in Pakistan founded and led by young women, whose mission
is to empower young people, advocate for equal rights of young women and to strengthen their
capacity, enabling them to act as agents of women’s empowerment and social change.
The aware girls approach is based on the simple idea that the best way to prevent young people from
being attracted to violent or extremist movements is by reaching them through other young people.
The organization identifies potential volunteer peace educators and then provides them with
training in peace building conflict transformation, non-violence and pluralism. Using a peer
education approach, the trained activists carry out peace education and capacity building
activities with a group of ten young people in their communities, exploring relevant topics
including non-violence, conflict resolution through dialogue, the teaching of Islam on peace and
what it means to be tolerate of diverse beliefs and ideas.
Part 4: Identifying youth at risk
Violent radicalization is a complex matter that has not been defined uniformly. In this context,
violent radicalization refers to a process whereby a person accepts the use of violence to achieve
political, ideological or religious goals. Take note that radicalization does not necessarily lead
to violent extremism or terrorism and radical expressions do not have to be problematic per se.
CPRLV in Canada has developed a ‘behavior barometer’ categorization system as a guide for the
assessment of behaviors that may provide an indication of an individual’s radicalization process.
Given the various factors that might influences a young person’s decision to take part in extremist
violence, Youth workers must take note of what is being presented to young people and the needs
that are being met by extremist groupings. They should aim to provide activities that can meet
these needs in more positive and constructive ways.
In this context the following are essential attributes when working with young people:
• Support young people to explore their identity
• Providing a sense of belonging
• Creating safe spaces for young people to meet and to be themselves
• Providing opportunities for young people to challenge the negative circumstances affecting
their lives- such as, poverty, discrimination or unemployment
• Enabling young people to explore alternatives to violence and imagine new ways to solve
This category includes a series of behaviors associated with diverse forms of political, religious
or community engagement, which are characterized by peaceful actions and democratic means of
• Argue fervently to defend their convictions before family members and/or close friends
• Adopt visible signs (traditional clothes, beard, shaved head, religious symbols, specific
tattoos, etc.) to express their identity
• Take a keen interest in national and international current affairs
• Insist on following specific dietary requirements due to political or religious convictions
• Display a desire to correct social injustices
This category includes behaviors that show evidence of personal ill health. It also includes
behaviors that represent an increasingly sustained self-identification with a cause or an ideology
that leads the individual to significantly change their behavior
• Are drawn to conspiracy theories and discourse
• Begin to isolate themselves from family and/or friends
• Reject the rules and regulations in institutions and organization with which they are in contact
(school, workplace, athletic organizations, etc) based on ideological, political or religious
• Refuse to take part in group activities or come into contact with certain individuals due to the
latters religion, race, skin, color, gender or sexual orientation
This category encompasses behaviors that can be associated with the beginning of an individuals
engagement in a radical trajectory. It is characterized by an acute mistrust of the outside world
and by a preponderance of views legitimizing the use of violence to achieve goals or to win a
• Legitimize the use of violence to defend a cause of ideology
• Become closer to individuals or groups known to be violent extremists
• Become obsessed with the end of the world or with messianic views
• Express hateful views towards other individuals or groups
This category includes a variety of behaviors that show evidence of an exclusive and sectarian
allegiance to an ideology or cause, which lead the individual to perceive violence as the only
legitimate and valid means of action.
• Take part in violent extremist group activities by any means whatsoever (material financial or
• Reinforce own beliefs through regular consultation of violence extremist internet forums and
• Commit or plan violent or hateful acts inspired by ideological motives or a violent extremist
• Learn about, seek to acquire or know how to use weapons (firearms, explosives, etc) outside the
PART 5 Youth worker responses to extremism
The youth-focused interventions below are grouped in four categories:
• The youth work relationship
• Group work
• Civic and/ or political education
• Community engagement
The youth work relationship
Building relationships with young people could be described as the currency of youth work. The
success of all our other activities with young people depends on the rapport and trust created in
this way. Our values and perspectives on young people are central to this process whilst
maintaining ‘unconditional positive regard’; the respect we hold for young people that are not
based on their behavior or attainment.
Relationships are also central to how young people experience community. To understand community we
should consider the 3 S’s of community, which are often thought of as the key requirements for
human beings to experience a positive sense of community with each other:
• Security- safety; physical, emotional and social to express fears or concerns as well as the
extent to which young people feel they can be themselves when they are part of a group
• Solidarity- is that shared understanding of group purpose- and the accompanying feelings of
belonging and being supported
• Significance- a sense that their existence and their contribution matters; being valued and
listened to in the group
The GROW model; acronym for Goals, Reality, Options and Will
The Grow model is a coaching model that supports young people in setting goals, solving problems
and identifying appropriate actions to achieve their goals
Case study on how young people can be supported through mentoring
Mind Your Own Business is an entrepreneurship- focused development programme that seeks to
strengthen participant’s professional skills and social relationships through vocational and
personal skills development. In collaboration with volunteer mentors and mentor companies, the
young people are given the responsibility to establish and operate their own micro-enterprise over
an eight-month period. They work together as a team working on everything from product development
to production marketing and sales.
Internal and external evaluation has indicated that participants gain significantly from the
programme, as reflected in improved communication and social skills- including co operating with
others and listening to (and respecting) others views. Through exposure to a variety of new
experiences, participants become more confident in their own abilities and potential.
Groups offer young people valuable opportunities for experiential learning. The role of the youth
worker is focused on ‘group marketing’ or ‘group becoming’. The advantage of group is that you can
create a space for self-directed learning that starts from the young people’s existing knowledge
and works with them to understand what they want to achieve and how they can do so.
A distinct feature of non-formal learning is that they do not rely on specific curriculum; you can
start with the experience in the room and create a dynamic that is more participatory and youth-led
than conventional programme led approaches. It focuses on working with young people, rather than
doing youth work to young people.
The youth worker should focus on developing relationships, supporting young people to articulate
what they care about. This will help build the motivation to make a difference and to be active
citizens. It is vital that youth workers address sensitive topics directly, honestly and openly.
Youth workers must support young people to understand who they are, their place in the world and
what it means to act with integrity as a member of the human race.
They can do this by addressing issues of common concern such as inequality, war, immigration,
racism, violence, division, sexism, discrimination, poverty and unemployment.
An asset-based perspective of young people understands the need to include young people in dialogue
on a range of topics- not just those that affect them directly. This can help young people to
explore ‘narratives’ that inform how they interpret the world around them. By involving young
people in this way, youth workers can help pre-empt the feelings of powerlessness or apathy which
have repeatedly been found among people who go on to perpetrate acts of violence.
Young people need to feel confident in identifying and expressing their own ideas and opinions
safely whilst also learning to value others. Key to this process is the ability to challenge
stereotypes, myths, beliefs and perceptions, to question where these came from and to explore how
they come to be accepted.
Within the kinds of discussions is important to acknowledge the risk of imposing our own values on
young people and prevent any kind of indoctrination by developing our self-awareness to better
understand how we feel about dealing with controversial issues. We must also be willing to confront
our own preconceptions and blind spots whilst developing our critically thinking skills.
It is not possible to equip young people with critical thinking skills if we do not seek to develop
these skills ourselves. When working with young people we must also set aside time to reflect on
our practice with managers or colleagues, or using self- reflection
‘Good youth work is about how you create safety for young people to explore issues which are
fundamentally risky and allow them to make decisions which then can allow them to change, and
unless those kind of opportunities are provided for people to look at things which are dangerous
but from a place that is relatively safe then I don’t think anything changes’ (Duncan
Morro - Lecturer and Director of Community Engagement, University of Ulster)
Youth Participatory action research
Youth participatory action research is an approach where young people are trained in research
skills to deliver their own research projects as a means of improving their own lives or the lives
of those in their neighborhoods. It positions them as co- researches, recognizes the value of their
ideas and opinions and strengthens their contribution to bringing about change.
Role-play is an ideal method for helping young people to engage in experimental learning and to
grapple with the implications of real life issues. It also gives young people the opportunity,
in a safe environment, to explore a variety of possible responses to problems and real-life situations.
Conflict resolution skills
It is important to give young people opportunities to understand the nature of conflict and to
develop conflict resolution skill. This is particularly important for young people who are
vulnerable of becoming involved in violent extremism because they believe violence is the only
Civic and / or Political Engagement
There are many ways in which youth workers can support young people’s engagement civically and
politically including introducing civic and political education in formal education, creating
opportunities to volunteer and serve the local community, ensuring that young people are consulted
as part of the policy making processes and are involved in decision making. Young people must feel
that have a recognized role in improving their communities; being part of social change also helps
to address the feeling of powerlessness.
Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child requires a number of actions on the part
• The provision of space for children and young people to express their views;
• The support to express them;
• The act of listening to what children and young people think;
• Acting upon their views appropriately
For some young people, political engagement might mean that they take part in a municipal youth
forum or a national youth parliament. Other young people may seek to combine social action with
political activism, ensuring their voices are heard through lobbying and campaigning on issues they
In situations of conflict and post conflict there is a pressing need for young people to be
including in peace-building process and initiatives. It is important to discuss with colleagues and
with young people how they can play a more inclusive role in building the society they want to live
This means supporting young people to develop a heightened critical awareness of their
circumstances- and on this basis, to identify priority issues and plan specific actions to bring
It is widely agreed that young people need opportunities to develop a sense of connection with
their local communities. Young people can sometimes feel disconnected from others in their
neighborhood, particularly if they are treated with suspicion or viewed as potential troublemakers.
Exposure to ‘the other’ is a critical part of young people’s personal and social development.
Restorative justice can be used when there is a risk that young people will become involved in
actual or potential violent conflict between communities. It encourages offenders to understand the
impact of their wrongdoing on their victims- and take responsibility by seeking to make amends. It
emphasis the victims perspective, opens up the possibility for offenders to be restored to more
positive pathways, and helps to restore relationships.
Example: For young people who are being influenced by violent group such as right- wing extremists
seeking to stir up violence against minorities. It may be useful to consider ways in which the
young people can hear the voices of victims or the voices of former offenders.
Responding to Individual Young people
The following analytical model can be used to inform our responses to individual young people. The
model shoes how each of the three categories of cognition, emotion and behavior- In order to
reinforce young people’s cognitive resources, support, emotional skills development and increase
commitment to voluntary social action.
This section describes what youth workers can do in their regular activities with young people, to
help pre-empt influences from destructive narratives. The recommended approach is to encourage
young people are not swayed by radical discourse leading to violent actions.
Increase positive emotions through activities that build self-esteem, assertiveness and nonviolent
Build critical-thinking skills, support young people to face setbacks
Increase young persons commitment to meaningful projects such as engagement in service learning or
community volunteering projects
The CPRLV suggest a number of ‘protective factors’ including:
• A non-violent social network (face-to-face or online)
• A quality relationship with a positive role model
• Critical thinking and broad mindedness
• Stable rational environment
• Ability to handle emotions
• Tolerance towards ambiguity (grey area)
• Opportunity for positive social advocacy
• Empathy towards others
Post- radicalization signs
This section addresses the approach a youth worker might take if a young person they are working
with is showing some signs of radicalization.
Help maintain the young person’s connections with their social environment as well as their
Discuss and dialogue in order to understand the young persons motivations, encourage them to
express and develop in the other aspects of their identity.
Help ensure the young person continues to engage in and is included in youth activities.
The CPRLV makes a number of practical suggestions such as:
• Encourage the person to talk to you and do not make them feel guilty
• Listen- without passing judgment on others persons needs, beliefs, ideals… in order to maintain
• Adopt a non-punitive attitude (for example, do not forbid the person to have internet access,
do not ground them etc.) so that the person does not withdraw into themselves
• Remain vigilant and keep an eye on how the situation develops
It is essential that organizations have the appropriate facilities and space to meet young people-
whether these are physical or virtual spaces. They must also create opportunities to engage with
young people who do not usually access youth services.
Support for staff and volunteers particular those in direct contact with young people, is essential
to ensure consistence in the services provided. This support can take the form of supervision e.g
by a line manager or in a group setting. Supervision is an opportunity for reflection and distance
from the constant cycle of planning, organizing, coordinating and delivering activities and
programme. It can also help staff develop their critical and analytical thinking skills.
Organizations that engage with young people directly need to ensure that they have appropriate
internal structures and detailed policies and procedures to address issues that may arise in the
area of young people and extremism. Organizations should also have an awareness of their local,
regional and national policy environment, particularly in relation to policies that affect young
people directly. The main goal is to ensure that young people are the beneficiaries of youth
Questions for personal reflection:
• How comfortable do I feel about working with the experiences in the room than delivering a set
• To what extent do the young people I work with experience security, significance and solidarity
when they take part in the youth activities I facilitate? How do I know?
• What do I need to work on to increase my confidence as a group facilitator?
• What issues to I feel confident to address with young people? What issues do I feel reluctant to
address with young people? Why? What do I need to do to increase my confidence?
Questions for reflection with young people:
• When does violence start?
• What are the spaces where you can be yourself?
• What do you need to be heard in this community more widely?
Local contextual awareness
The use of contextual analysis and action research can help workers to better understand their
Meeting other youth workers from other organizations not only provides mutual support, but also
leads to sharing of learning and ideas for practice. Building up relationships and connections in
these different professional contexts enables you to call upon support or advise when you need it-
and to be more effective in working towards the best possible outcomes for young people
The following is a scenario that will help youth workers, policy-makers and other who work with
young people to reflect on how they might respond to potential instances of radicalization.
Read the scenario then work through each of the questions and come up with an action plan in your
Shortly after a terrorist attack in your country, there are serious tensions amongst the youth that
you work with. You know that some of the parents identify with far right ideology. White young
people begin to single out the minority ethnic young people telling them that they are the ones
that have caused the terrorist attack. You learn that some of them have threatened the minority
ethnic young people- telling them to watch out and that their families are going to ‘get it’.
Questions for discussion of each scenario:
• What can you do in this situation? Which of the strategies highlighted in this pack would you
employ? What other ideas can you explore to address this scenario?
• What would be the key features of your approach? What values would be particularly relevant?
• What can someone else do?
• What can your organization do?
• What difficulties would you face?
• What would you need to help you? What information do you need to address similar scenarios if
they arise in the community you work in?
• How will know if your approach has been successful?
Questions for reflection for you and your organization:
• What are the structures that might support young people to be part of building the society they
want to live in?
• How can we make a difference in the youth policy environment? How can we ensure that young
people’s need s is central in any policies that affect their lives?
Questions for peer reflection:
• What does it take to do this work? How do we sustain ourselves?
• How do we process these issues with each other safely?
• How are we to model- as youth workers and human beings- appropriate ways to work in the area of
young people and extremism, including radicalization?
Part 6: Using the Erasmus Programme framework
International experiences and exposure to alternative points of view can be effective tools in
enabling young people to view their own experiences and contexts from a different angle. Such
opportunities open up new possibilities to apply fresh understandings of their home environment and
handle different perspectives.
Erasmus, the EU programme modernizes education training and youth work across Europe, by developing
knowledge and skills, and increasing the quality and relevance of qualifications.
Benefits from involvement in Erasmus youth projects include:
• Improvement in young peoples skills and competencies for active citizenship, democratic
participation, employment and entrepreneurship, intercultural, intercultural dialogue and social
• Improvement in the quality of youth work through co-operation between youth organizations and
• Improvement in policy development and the recognition of non-formal and informal learning
(through co-operation between policy-makers at local, regional and national levels, use of
recognition tools and exchange of good practices)
• Improvement in the capacity of youth workers and youth organizations for European and
international partnership activities.
Preparing for a successful partnership
• Set aside time to clarify each partners expectations for the project, their organization’s
values and objectives
• Ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of the requirements for applicants whilst being
• Use a planning tool such as a logic model (see below)
- Discuss and agree desired outcomes for the project
- Plan for how you are going to evaluate the success of the project
- Identify the resources needed
- List the activities that will take place during the preparation, delivery and post delivery
phases and agree specific outputs or targets as necessary
- Ensure the methodologies chosen fit with the desired outcome
- Ensure there is a good plan in place for selection and preparation of participants
• Make use of a written agreement to confirm expectations, desired outcomes, and clarify detail
on all practical matters including:
-Deadlines for completion of relevant tasks
-Division of roles and responsibilities
-All partners responsibilities in preparing and implementing fair and transparent decisions on
project management and in responding to risks and emergencies
-All partners’ commitment to project planning, implementation and evaluation, together with
• Ensure there is clear, honest and regular communication in all phases of the project
-Keep partners informed regarding any changes or unexpected situations that
- Keep partners informed if there is going to be difficulty adhering to what has been agreed on
• Ensure logistical arrangements are included in detailed planning
A logic model is a simple visual way of presenting the relationship between the problem you aim to
solve, the resources available, the activities you plan and the changes and results you hope to
PART 7- Conclusion
“Youth work and youth workers must go further and be in the forefront of offering a real voice and
real non-tokenistic, participative democratic political education and involvement to young people
at local and community level”
This resource pack has focused on the relevance of civic youth work to the broad area of young
people and extremism. By using civic youth work as an approach, young people can be supported to
take on the role of co-creators of social change and to be equal partnership shaping a world no
longer threatened by violent extremism.
One should note, that one publication couldn’t by itself reduce the risk of extremism, especially
violent extremism. We will not necessarily see immediate results from putting the suggestions
outlined here into practice. Youth work in the area of young people and extremism is gradually,
painstaking work; it requires our full commitment and perseverance.
As youth workers and others with responsibility for young people’s non-formal learning, we must
address difficult and sensitive issues directly, openly and honestly.
The Erasmus programme can support initiatives that explore social recognition, intercultural
understanding, active citizenship and inclusion as well as extremism and radicalization.
You are invited to use this resource pack to reflect on the ideas that have been presented on your
own practice and your opportunities to address these issues.
Use critical reflection to explore your values, expand your critical thinking skills and safeguard
your welfare. Seek out ways in which to support action research and to support ways that ensure
young people’s voices and perspectives are heard.
Finally, always remember to hope. Humans are inherently creative beings. With young people, we can
explore alternatives to extremism, partner with them in finding new pathways that lead away from
violence actions, and support them in
believing that another world is possible.