Grant from the Ministry of Justice for our sub-project: "Concerned about Extremist Orientation?"

8.5.2020
Good news for the prevention of radicalisation and extremism in education! The Finnish Ministry of Justice has awarded a grant to our new project “Concerned about Extremist Orientation - A Guidebook for Professionals working with Youth”. The guidebook will be published in spring 2021.

The guidebook will provide those working with young people with a tangible plan for discussion and action that will allow them to assess the possible cause of the young person's distress, and direct them towards the right support. The grant was awarded for Fokus ry (NGO) and the project will be carried out in cooperation with the Growing to Radical? project's researchers Saija Benjamin and Pia Koirikivi, PhD candidate Katja Vallinkoski and youth professionals.

The model of the elements of an extremist orientation

Modified from Quassim Cassam's notion of "the Extremist Mindset". 

Objectives 

The project has three main objectives: 1) To strengthen the skills of professionals working with youth in situations where the young person's behavior or rhetoric raises concern and suspicion of violent radicalization, 2) To develop guidelines for discussion and action in order to assess the underlying cause of the concern at the earliest possible stage and direct the young person towards appropriate support; 3) Strengthen young people's voice and involvement in the development of methods for preventing extremism.

The guidebook includes a model for discussion and action to support the encounter with young persons whose behavior or rhetoric raises concern in either their peers or adults working with them. This concern may stem from an admiration for an extremist ideology or organisation, be related to violent or racist behavior or rhetoric, or efforts to promote the “purity” of a group (e.g., ethnic or religious). Such activities may point to an adoption of a so-called “Extremist orientation” and indicate that the young person needs enhanced support and guidance from adults to prevent any further harmful developments. Central to the extremist orientation are hostile attitudes and the making of hierarchical differences between different groups of people, which is detrimental to social coherence, as well as democracy. At worst, the dignity of certain groups of people is being called into question, in which case violent action against them can also be justified (cf. The Extremist Mindset by Quassim Cassam). 

From the point of view of PVE, it is important that adults working with young people have sufficient skills to face the young person of concern and to address the harmful development process by directing the young person to appropriate support and assistance. In this case, it is important for the adult to be able to identify and distinguish provocation from the real risk of radicalization. It is also central to differentiate cases where the young person's symptoms do not indicate an extremist orientation, but other support needs such as mental health challenges, drug use, financial problems or self-harm.

The guidebook contains research-based information about extremism, a framework for discussion, as well as instructions on which support service the young person should be referred to in each particular situation. The authors of the guidebook are researchers and specialists in education, psychology, youth psychiatry and extremism, and the guidebook is being developed in close collaboration with young people.