In efforts to understand and counter violent extremism, governments, think tanks and institutions are beginning to recognize the role of the family in preventing radicalization. A recent report by the Rand Corporation studied youth in the West Bank and came to the conclusion that “those who claimed that their parents had minimal impact on their major decisions were also statistically more likely to engage in violent protest. This finding is fascinating. It suggests, again, that family can have an important dampening influence on radicalization.”
While many focus on social media and peer-to-peer networks as the primary gateway to radicalization, the profiles of many of the young people who have turned to violent extremism often originate from weak or non-existent parental influence and instances of broken and fragile families.
While this may not always be the case, the findings in the 2015 Rand report suggests that stronger familial ties could prevent radical and extremist violence.
Without discounting the influence of peers and social media, the important role that families, and particularly parents, can have on the youth urge us to reflect on the long-term, comprehensive strategies we need to counter extremism.
On a larger scale, how can we effectively engage families and communities of families in spreading inclusive values to bring people together rather than keep them apart? How can faith leaders and communities of different backgrounds come together to build resilient communities and support healthy families?
These are some of the themes and questions we explore along with our partners in forums, programs and activities around the world.