What can we do?
We also asked our respondents what they would like to see in peacebuilding activities and what they believe would be effective in their own communities.
Actions that would have the strongest effect in reducing the involvement
of young people in violent extremism:
Our people, especially young people, need to be educated and informed about the ways violent extremism could exist and how it is rooted in our society and communities. We also need to learn how to identify the different ways that VE groups target and lure in new recruits so that we may be able to address these issues from their sources.
Additionally, young people need support from a strong network of like-minded organizations dedicated to peacebuilding that could step up against the networks VE groups have. A network between peace advocates would allow for a clearer and easier stream of information regarding projects and activities that would help their communities. It would also streamline the number of opportunities that we could take advantage of in our journey of becoming pillars of peace.
A sustainable mentoring program is also highly recommended to guide those without parental guidance (especially those with abusive households) or without proper education; the youth deserve to learn about the opportunities available to them outside of violent and harmful means.
Aside from targeting the youth, we must also do our best to accommodate their families and other members of their community. We have found that several of the community’s elements related to VE are deeply rooted within and we must do what we can to challenge and educate everyone, especially those who are willing to learn and move forth from their harmful ways. We must equip them with sufficient knowledge so that they may pass this onto those that our own programs cannot reach.
Civil Society Organizations must also band together in order to diminish the effects of poverty, historical injustices, and even violations of human rights that are prevalent in our country. Partnerships with relevant government offices and agencies, institutions such as the church, and various stakeholders such as businesses must be explored to maximize the effects of the programs that create possible solutions to economic and societal dilemmas.
There should be special focus on the strengthening and formation of one’s values and character when it comes to peace building projects and programs. Their participants’ selves should be viewed with the same importance as other elements such as the community, family, state, and economic market.
Projects catering to the youth’s mental health should be given more importance as well in order to manage the possible effects VE could have on the individual.
CSOs need to understand the dynamics that revolve around the family and an individual; the study has shown that the members of the family could either push or pull one towards violent extremism. Programs need to extend their reach into the youth’s family and not just focus on the individual since they don’t exist in a vacuum and the people around them hold much influence on their values and character.
Economic pressures that fall onto the parents and their need to provide for their family could also be abused by VE groups as they try to recruit more members to their ranks. Societal norms and stereotypes (such as “hyper masculinity”) perpetuated within the community can also affect one’s belief system and principles in life.
Peace building programs also need to take into consideration other figures of influence and authority in the lives of the youth and include them in their target audiences. The youth gather much of their principles and advocacies from their environment such as schools, extracurriculars, media, religious communities, and more.
The research has found that violent extremist groups would lure citizens by targeting their needs which are heavily affected by their economic status and standing. Peace-builders and like-minded organizations must turn to multi-sectoral partners in order to craft programs and projects that would ease the connections of violent extremism and poverty (and related issues) at their core.
Our government officials and public workers play a large role in the peace-building process as they create the regulations, implement programs on the local and the national level, and manage the stance of the country on important issues such as Violent Extremism. Projects that aim to achieve peace must adhere to the guidelines set by the government and vice versa which means works of the government should adhere to peace. Various peace advocates and groups are encouraged to partner with government offices in order to reach a large number of people and achieve more success.
Further, government workers and officials need to listen and coordinate to the people when crafting peace-building programs to make sure that their regulations are in line with the needs of the citizens.