Young people and extremism: a resource pack for youth workers - Salto Youth

Young people and extremism: a resource pack for youth workers - Salto Youth
Young people
and extremism:
a resource pack
for youth workers
Young people and extremism: a resource pack for youth workers - Salto Youth
Erasmus+ is the European Union programme for education, training, youth
and sport. It runs from 2014 to 2020 and has a budget of €14.7 billion.
Erasmus+ aims to modernise education, training and youth work across
Europe, by developing knowledge and skills, and increasing the quality and
relevance of qualifications.
It is open to organisations across the spectrum of lifelong learning: adult
education, higher education, schools education, vocational education and
training, youth and sport.
Erasmus+ will enable more than four million people to study, train, volunteer or
work in another country. Access to international experience not only benefits
the individuals involved, but also their organisations – enabling them to develop
policy and practice, and so offer improved opportunities for learners.
Erasmus+ has responded to changing circumstances in Europe, and the
growing concern for social inclusion, by encouraging new project applications
which emphasise the following:
  eaching out to marginalised young people, promoting diversity, intercultural
 and inter-religious dialogue, common values of freedom, tolerance and
 respect of human rights;
  nhancing media literacy, critical thinking and sense of initiative
 among young people;
  quipping youth workers with competences and methods needed for
 transferring the common fundamental values of our society, particularly
 to young people who are hard to reach;
 Preventing violent radicalisation of young people.
Given the current context in Europe regarding migration, Erasmus+ also
encourages youth mobility projects involving – or focusing on – refugees,
asylum-seekers and migrants.
(Based on the Erasmus+ Programme Guide 2017, page 78)

Cultural Diversity
SALTO Cultural Diversity (SALTO CD) is one of eight resource centres in the
SALTO-Youth network (Support Advanced Learning and Training Opportunities
for Youth). These support the Erasmus+ Youth Chapter by providing non-formal
training and networking opportunities for youth workers across Europe.
SALTO CD is particularly concerned with topics such as culture, ethnicity, faith
and identity, in order to promote cultural diversity. It has a keen interest in
contributing to new approaches in relation to young people and extremism,
and in promoting international partnerships which support further learning
and exchange in this area.
Young people and extremism: a resource pack for youth workers - Salto Youth
1    Introduction
1    The benefits of partnership in youth work
                                                                         12 	Mapping your community
1    About this resource pack                                                 exercise
                                                                         16 Identity exercise
3    Part 1: Perspectives of young people
                                                                         18 	Civic youth work action cycle
6    Part 2: Understanding the causes of extremism                       28 Egg tower exercise
7    What are the main types of violent extremism?                       30 	Narratives and counter-
                                                                              narratives exercise
7    What do we mean by extremism and radicalism?
                                                                         31 	Plus, minus, interesting
8    Causes of violent extremism
                                                                              brainstorming model
9    What do young people get out of involvement in violent extremism?        – Non-Violent communication
10   Why recruit young people?                                           33 Veil exercise
10   Contextual analysis                                                 39 	Cultural symbols exercise
11   A culture of violence                                                    – Local contextual awareness
11   Action research

14   Part 3: How youth work can make a difference                        Case studies
18   Civic youth work                                                    17 The THINK Project
                                                                         20 Aware Girls
21   Part 4: Identifying youth at risk
                                                                         27 Mind Your Own Business
22   Recognising radicalisation
                                                                         37 Love Works

25   Part 5: Youth worker responses to extremism                         42
26   The youth work relationship
28   Team building                                                       More tools and case studies can be
                                                                         found on the SALTO CD website:
28   Group work                                                
34   Civic and/or political engagement                                   cultural-diversity/publications/
36   Community engagement
40   Responding to individual young people
41   Organisational strategies
44   Local contextual awareness
44   Scenario discussion

46   Part 6: Using the Erasmus+ Programme framework

49   Conclusion

51   Bibliography
Young people and extremism: a resource pack for youth workers - Salto Youth
Young people and extremism: a resource pack for youth workers - Salto Youth
Introduction                                                                         The benefits of
                                                                                     partnership in
                                                                                     youth work
                                                                                     In May 2016 the Council of the
To effectively address the drivers of violent                                        European Union reiterated both the
extremism and promote peace, youth must                                              value of youth work and the ‘role of
                                                                                     the youth sector in an integrated
be engaged as partners in the design and                                             and cross-sectoral approach to
implementation of relevant programs and                                              preventing and combating violent
                                                                                     radicalisation of young people.’
policies. With commitments to learning, to                                           Since risks to young people from
partnership, to innovation, and to impact,                                           extremism are not confined by
                                                                                     borders, but are also shaped by local
we are ready to address violent extremism,                                           contexts, there is potential for youth
a defining challenge for our generation.                                             organisations to work with partners
Global Youth Summit Against Violent Extremism, 28 September 2015, New York           from different European countries.
                                                                                     In this way, youth organisations
Devastating terrorist attacks in         In April 2016, 24 youth workers,            can expand and enhance the
Europe in 2015–16 have increased         community workers, activists and            opportunities offered to young
concern at levels of extremism,          policymakers from 14 European               people and youth workers – enabling
including violent extremism. The         states gathered in Paris to explore         them to gain new insights, as a result
EU’s Terrorism Situation and             these issues further. The seminar           of exposure to different experiences
Trend Report of 2015 referred to         enabled participants to increase            and settings.
‘unprecedented’ numbers of people        their understanding in this area,
going from Europe to Syria and Iraq
to become involved in armed conflict.
                                         and explore the role of youth work
                                         in response. The seminar’s
                                                                                     About this
Meanwhile, right-wing extremist
violence remains a significant threat
                                         objectives were to:                         resource pack
                                           identify and understand the causes        This pack aims to help youth workers
to security across European states.        of extremism and radicalisation;          to increase their understanding
Governments, policymakers and              r ecognise the importance of             of the issues and their awareness
young people themselves are                 dialogue on the concept of               of the complexities. It must be
all concerned to deter young                citizenship and to explore questions     emphasised that this pack – just
people from becoming involved               of identity, including religious and     like any other resource – does not
in extremism, especially violent            political beliefs;                       have all the answers. Extremism and
extremism. The Paris Declaration                                                     radicalisation, and how they impact
issued by the Council of the                quip participants with the ability to
                                                                                     on young people, are complex issues
European Union in 2015 noted               identify those most at risk and with
                                                                                     and there is no ‘one size fits all’
the rise of extremism in European          tools to respond to different levels
                                                                                     remedy that will stop young people
society and expressed commitment           of extremism and radicalisation;
                                                                                     from being involved in extremism,
to upholding fundamental values –           esign and implement activities
                                           d                                         including violent extremism.
including respect for human dignity,       using the Erasmus+ framework              However, this resource focuses on
freedom, democracy, equality, the          to help young people at risk from         youth work as a practice that can
rule of law and human rights. It           extremism and radicalisation.             enable us to respond to the risk of
emphasised the role of education,                                                    young people becoming involved.
                                         This resource pack builds on the
along with the need for co-operation                                                 It highlights civic youth work, in
                                         content of the seminar and aims
across the EU’s member states, to                                                    particular, as a specific approach
                                         to provide theoretical and practical
ensure that, ‘Children and young                                                     to youth work based on active
                                         support to youth workers, as well as
people acquire social, civic and                                                     citizenship that can help in reducing
                                         providing information and insight to
intercultural competences, by                                                        this risk.
                                         policymakers, youth and education
promoting democratic values and
                                         practitioners and other organisations       Having a better understanding of
fundamental rights, social inclusion
                                         involved in responding to the risks         young people can help us to better
and non-discrimination, as well as
                                         from extremism and radicalisation.          understand radicalisation. If we want
active citizenship.’
                                                                                     to understand young people as best
                                                                                     as possible, we need to try to do so,

Young people and extremism: a resource pack for youth workers - Salto Youth
Definitions                          not just as adults or as professionals,    We recognise that not all readers
Civic youth work is work             but also from the point of view of         who work with young people will
with young people in order to        young people themselves. We need           necessarily identify themselves as
bring about change in the            to connect with young people in            youth workers. Many different kinds
issues that matter to them           ways that help us to learn how they        of professionals and volunteers have
in their daily lives.                make sense of extremism, including         opportunities to work with, or on
                                     violent extremism. The resource pack       behalf of young people, in different
Action research provides             therefore begins with an analysis of       settings, including teachers, social
a cyclical process of learning       the different ways in which young          workers and civil servants. Whenever
and action to find solutions         people are perceived in society            the term youth worker is used, it
to problems.                         and how this can influence our             does not refer exclusively to those
Non-formal learning is learning      engagement with them. It                   who are in a professional youth work
that takes place in a broad range    also proposes action research              role or who have a particular set
of settings, such as community       in partnership with young people           of qualifications in that regard, but
centres or sports clubs, and         as a way of developing responses           includes anyone in direct contact
is not dependent on formal           to problems through both action            with young people. In the Erasmus+
education structures, such as        and reflection.                            programme, ‘young people’ usually
a curriculum, but is centred on      This resource pack offers ideas,           refers to those aged 15–30. This may
the voluntary participation of the   examples and practical techniques          differ from your local context – and
learner, who is actively involved    through which youth workers,               some of the examples mentioned
in their own learning.               community workers, policymakers            may refer to young people on either
                                     and those who work with young              side of that age band – but this
                                     people can engage with challenging         material is generally intended for
                                     questions and better understand the        those who work with young people
                                     context young people are living in. It     in this age category.
                                     explores the role of youth work with
                                     an international dimension, and of
                                     non-formal learning more generally,
                                     in responding to the risks to young
                                     people from different forms of
                                     Alongside each section, there are
                                     questions to aid critical reflection and
                                     help you think about the best way to
                                     apply these ideas in your context and
                                     with the young people you work with.
                                     The pack also includes a number
                                     of case studies (showing how some
                                     of these techniques have been put
                                     into practice) and 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:

Young people and extremism: a resource pack for youth workers - Salto Youth
Part 1: Perspectives
of young people

Young people and extremism: a resource pack for youth workers - Salto Youth
Further reading                 Young people through the centuries have been the
‘Hoodies, louts, scum’:
how media demonises
                                target of commentators keen to pin all of society’s
teenagers’ Richard Garner.      ills on to them. Young people can, and do, commit
The Independent 13 March        serious crimes… However, what is not at all clear is
2009:     whether young offenders have any connection with
uk/home-news/hoodies-louts-     tales of national decline, or that young people are
teenagers-1643964.html          worse thought of these days than they used to be.
Folk Devils and Moral Panics:   Moral panic has always been with us.
The creation of the Mods and    Geoff Pearson, Antisocial Behaviour: Modern Folk Devils
Rockers, Stanley Cohen, 2002.
                                There are a number of different ways in which we can view young people,
                                summarised in the table opposite. It is important to understand that the first
                                three perspectives are characteristics of a deficit model, where young people
                                are viewed as in some way deficient. They are considered not yet fully formed
                                and can potentially even represent a risk to themselves. These perspectives
                                are grounded in a conception of youth where chronological age dictates
                                development, and in contrast to adults, it is considered that young people are
                                in a phase of preparation for ‘real life’.
                                These various viewpoints are noticeable in media representations of young
                                people, where they are described in negative terms more often than positively.
                                For example, research has found that descriptions of teenage boys in the
                                media connected them to issues of crime more than half the time. Such
                                demonisation can create a sense of moral panic about ‘the youth of today’. This
                                phenomenon shows how public anxiety can be generated in relation to certain
                                societal standards or social problems and sensationalised in the media – in
                                turn adding to the anxiety.
                                The last perspective listed in the table
                                opposite – which views young people
                                                                              young people can
                                as co-creators – forms the foundation
                                for this resource pack. It supports
                                                                              and must be part
                                approaches that are based on working          of the solution
                                in partnership with young people. Such
                                approaches can be used to address risks from extremism and radicalisation,
                                by recognising that young people can and must be part of the solution.
                                When youth workers, educators and others who have professional
                                relationships view young people in this way, it releases the potential for young
                                people to develop their understanding of the world around them and to use
                                their skills (including critical thinking skills) to work in partnership with adults to
                                bring about social change.

Young people and extremism: a resource pack for youth workers - Salto Youth
Young         Description               Programme                Model           Definitions
people as…                              response                                 A Deficit-based approach to
Vulnerable    Young people are          Protection, diversion    Deficit-based   working with young people views
              susceptible to various    – can lead to an                         them as lacking the necessary
              dangers and risks         over-protection that                     skills, qualities and information
              such as alcohol           fails to enable young                    to contribute fully to society, or
              abuse, violence,          people to learn how                      defines them in terms of their
              sexual exploitation,      to navigate the world                    problems or needs and how
              dangerous ideologies;     around them.                             they represent a threat
              they need to be kept                                               to society.
              safe.                                                              Agency refers to a person’s
                                                                                 capacity to act and make
                                                                                 choices about their own lives,
Problem       Young people are          Management,                              and to make use of their skills
              troublemakers and         control, containment,                    and capabilities.
              are deviant, they can     diversion.                               An Asset-based approach
              cause harm to others                                               to working with young people
              and are a threat to                                                views them in terms of what
              society.                                                           they offer, their abilities and
                                                                                 strengths. This approach
                                                                                 also recognises that young
Consumer      Young people are not      Marketing,                               people have distinctive ideas
              ready to contribute       entertainment,                           and opinions; it values their
              in society, they          depositing information                   perspectives as young people.
              are ‘empty vessels’       – can switch the
              awaiting the deposit of   focus from learning                      Questions for reflection
              information; they are     as a process to an
              the future.               emphasis on outputs,                      How do you see young people?
                                        such as the numbers                        hen you explain your work
                                        participating in a                        to friends or family, how do
                                        programme.                                you present young people?
                                                                                  What representations of young
                                                                                  people are shared with you?
Co-creator    Young people have         Partnership, dialogue    Asset-based       hich perspective(s) of young
              the capacity to create,   and discussion of                         people from those suggested
              contribute, and           sensitive issues,                         in the table inform(s) the
              make a difference;        youth-led approaches,                     work and projects of your
              young people are          learning by doing.                        organisation?
              the present and not
                                                                                   ow can you – or the young
              just the future; they
                                                                                  people you work with – change
              are to be celebrated;
                                                                                  the narratives that are used to
              they are part of the
                                                                                  talk about young people?
              solution; young people
              have agency – the
              means or power to
              take action.

Table 1: Summary of how young people can be viewed

Young people and extremism: a resource pack for youth workers - Salto Youth
Part 2:
    Understanding the
    causes of extremism

In this section we 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.
If we acknowledge that different
perspectives may inform our views of      What are the main                         What do we mean
– and actions towards – young people,
we can see that young people are
                                          types of violent                          by extremism and
often understood to be ‘vulnerable’ to
involvement in extremist groupings.
                                          extremism?                                radicalism?
This is reflected in the portrayal        According to the Centre for               Dictionary definitions can help us
of young people in the media. For         the Prevention of Radicalisation          understand the meanings of certain
example, the UK-based commentator,        Leading to Violence (CPRLV) in            terms at a base level and we can
Alan Grattan, wrote in Youth and          Canada, violent extremism can             then begin to explore how these
Policy, that, ‘Britain has a ‘youth       be categorised in four ways:              terms are used more broadly in
problem’ of a new dimension, that         1) Left-wing violence, such as violent   relation to violent extremism. Some
of young disillusioned and alienated          acts committed by anti-capitalist     terms have particular connotations
Muslims who are vulnerable to                 groups in order to transform          for different people, or are perceived
‘radicalisation’ processes from those         political systems. This category      differently in different contexts,
who want to wage a ‘war’ on Britain.’         can also include violence by          and distortions might appear as
                                              animal rights extremists or           a result of different agendas. This
This kind of rhetoric can create
                                              environmentalist groups.              examination of terminology is
anxiety and suspicion towards young
                                                                                    crucial in preparing for successful
people, while ignoring the dynamics       2) Right-wing violent acts, such as      engagement with young people.
in wider society. This resource pack          those committed by far-right
acknowledges the very real challenges         groups, often referred to as ‘neo-    The Chambers Dictionary defines
facing young people, but also aims to         Nazi’ groups. Such groups are         an extremist as, ‘someone who
promote the view that it is much more         motivated by racism and a desire to   has extreme opinions, especially in
constructive to treat young people as         defend supposed racial supremacy.     politics’, and states that when the
potential agents of positive change.                                                word is used as an adjective it means
                                          3) Religiously motivated violence,       ‘relating to, or favouring, extreme
Before we can support young people            such as violent acts committed        measures’. A ‘radical’ is someone
to act on the basis of their abilities,       by extremist Islamic movements,       who favours far-reaching social and
strengths and capacity in the face of         which often have specific             political reform. It is when violence is
extremism, we need to understand              grievances against Western            involved that these definitions begin
how it manifests itself and to                governments in relation to            to shift in their emphasis – and it is
consider some of the terminology –            foreign policy.                       worth recognising that on their own,
not only for our own understanding
                                          4) Issue-based violence, such as         radical opinions or ideas are not
but also to help young people
                                              violence carried out by groups        considered problematic.
critique the messages they receive.
                                              concerned with a single issue –       No definition for radicalisation has
                                              such as abortion or homosexuality.    been universally adopted and it has
                                          Incidents of violence have been           been described in numerous ways by
                                          perpetrated on a similar scale            various organisations – some denote
                                          by both extreme right-wing and            it with reference purely to Islamic
                                          Islamist groupings in Europe in           terrorism, while others look at it
                                          recent years. However, this is not        more broadly. The CPRLV in Canada
                                          reflected in public perceptions,          frames radicalisation in terms of the
                                          since media attention tends to focus      use of violence to achieve change,
                                          on certain incidents. We should           defining it as ‘A process whereby
                                          all aim to become more informed           people adopt an extremist belief
                                          – recognising that facts can suffer       system – including the intent to use,
                                          from distortion in the media, and         encourage or facilitate violence –
                                          terminology can be used that stems        in order to promote an ideology,
                                          from discriminatory assumptions or        a political project or a cause as a
                                          encourages stereotyping.                  means of social transformation.’

Honour and responsibility
A community worker in Belfast,
                                     The CPRLV summarises violent
                                     radicalisation as:                        Causes of violent
Northern Ireland works with           ‘The adoption of an ideology whose
                                       rationale becomes a way of life and
young men in a neighbourhood
where there is a legacy of             a framework for meaningful action       The following factors have been
statutory military service as well     for the individual.                     identified from research into violent
as paramilitarism. He described        he belief in the use of violent
                                      T                                        groupings around the world. They
how there is a strong sense of        means to promote a cause.                indicate an increased likelihood
respect for the sacrifices made                                                of individuals deciding to involve
                                       he merging of ideology and
                                      T                                        themselves in a specific campaign
by previous generations in            violent action.’
serving in military actions and it                                             of violence:
is something that is honoured                The existence of a grievance or
in those communities. He                                                          perceived injustice by a sub-group
                                     The term ‘extremism’ can also be
observes that ‘there’s a sense                                                    of the population.
                                     relative – dependent on what is
of what’s responsible in terms       interpreted as moderate. This means         ge and gender (terrorist acts are
of responding to that through        that views considered threatening          generally committed by young
the service of your own life and     to the status quo may be thought of        males aged 15 to 25).
wanting to be committed and          as extremist views. A challenge that       Past family involvement with,
true to that.’                       emerges here is that these various         or support for, the movement.
Preventing Youth Extremism           terms can be used in ways that end
(interview), R Higginson             up labelling certain belief systems, or     ommunity support for the
                                     associating them with violence where       insurgent group, or high status
                                     there have in fact been no violent         associated with membership of
                                     actions. Efforts to counteract violent     the group.
                                     manifestations of extremist views           oercion or conscription into the
                                     become less effective when they            movement.
                                     narrow their focus to predicting who        ventual membership as a result
                                     will become tomorrow’s terrorist.          of an incremental process of
                                     For the purposes of this pack, when        increasing acts of insurgence.
                                     the text refers to violent extremism,       engeance as the individual feels a
                                     it is with the understanding that it       need to hit back and right wrongs.
                                     embraces a belief that violence is a
                                     legitimate method to achieve certain        become a member of an
                                     aims. Similarly, when the text refers      armed group there must be an
                                     to radicalisation, it is based on an       organisation that the individual has
                                     interpretation that includes violence      the opportunity to join, and that
                                     as part of the means to an end.            wants his or her membership.
                                                                               (Based on Ferguson, Burgess
                                                                               and Hollywood (2008))
                                                                               What is noticeable from this list
                                                                               is that religion is not included as
                                                                               having a direct causal relationship
                                                                               with violence. It has been suggested
                                                                               that religious ideology may have
                                                                               more to do with binding a group of
                                                                               people together. Ultimately, focusing
                                                                               on a small range of factors such as
                                                                               religious ideology or mental health
                                                                               does not enable us to explain why
                                                                               some people get involved in violent
                                                                               extremism. Many experts agree that
                                                                               there is no single pathway to violent
                                                                               It may be more productive to focus
                                                                               on asking how violence becomes
                                                                               legitimate in the mind of the
                                                                               perpetrator and, more importantly,
                                                                               to explore the political circumstances
                                                                               and the kinds of political narratives
                                                                               which are required for violence to be
                                                                               seen as legitimate.

What do young                             community. Another motivation
                                          for involvement may be the fear of
people get out                            shame, particularly for falling short
                                          of shared norms and expectations,
of involvement                            such as gender-based notions
                                          around expectations of what it
in violent                                means to be a man.

extremism?                                 egitimisation – extremist acts
                                          of violence can emerge in societies
The following list is by no means         where there is increased division
exhaustive, but offers a way of           and between ethno-religious
understanding young people’s              communities or political identities.
decisions to get involved in organised    Such division creates a heightened
armed violence                            sense of tradition and cultural
                                          identity and anything perceived to
  sense of identity, belonging
                                          threaten that culture or ‘way of life’
 and acceptance – the young
                                          reinforces the divide between ‘them’
 person may feel that they are
                                          and ‘us’ as well as fear of ‘the other’.
 being included, and the group may
                                          Participation in organised armed
 provide a source of support. This
                                          groups can serve as justification for
 may be particularly relevant for
                                          discriminatory and violent actions
 young people who feel alienated
                                          towards ‘the enemy’.
 by a prevailing culture, or who may
 be feared or suspected because            way out of poverty – particularly
 of their beliefs, religion, or where     for those young people living in
 they live.                               communities suffering deprivation,
                                          involvement in gangs or paramilitary
  ecurity or safety – on the one
                                          groups may offer a source of
 hand, the young person may feel
                                          income. For some, becoming
 safer as a member of a particular
                                          active in a violent gang or extremist
 grouping, particularly if there is a
                                          group may be considered as an
 perceived threat from outside the
                                          alternative career.
 neighbourhood or from a different
 grouping. On the other hand, there        sense of empowerment and
 may be very real consequences for        purpose – the young person may
 the young person if they choose          feel that their contribution matters
 not to get involved. For example, in     and that their worth is validated
 Germany, young people who are            because of the role they are given
 not part of right-wing groups in         within a violent extremist group.
 some rural areas may experience           n opportunity to resolve
 fear and intimidation because of         injustices – regardless of whether
 the level of domination by a right-      these are local or global, some
 wing youth culture; some may feel        violent groupings are perceived
 they have to blend in to stay safe.      positively because they are
  tatus – involvement in a violent
 S                                        doing something. This can be an
 gang or extremist group may give         important factor in communities
 the young person a sense that            where the police force is perceived
 they are protecting their family or      to be unrepresentative and
 neighbourhood.                           engaged in unfair practices (such
                                          as ethnic profiling) and is therefore
  onour and responsibility –
                                          not accepted, nor seen as effectual.
 affiliation with an organised armed
                                          Some young people may feel
 group can often tap into a sense of
                                          that being part of a paramilitary
 duty about what it means to be a
                                          organisation or extremist group
 responsible citizen. The activities of
                                          is their only way to challenge the
 paramilitary groupings may become
                                          inequities or discrimination they
 dominant and accepted as normal
                                          experience (see side panel on page
 in some neighbourhoods, especially
                                          11 for examples).
 if they are seen as resolving local
 problems more effectively than            n opportunity to ‘fight back’
 the police. They may also provide        – the decision to join an extremist
 another avenue for young people          organisation may be in response
 – young men in particular – to act       to a sense of being part of a
 out of a sense of service to the local   broader social conflict, such as a

perception that Muslims and the
 religion of Islam are under siege         Why recruit young                        Contextual
 on a global scale, or that refugees
 and asylum seekers are to blame
                                           people?                                  analysis
 for unemployment and increasing           It is worth considering what the         Contextual analysis is about
 pressure on public services.              adults involved in organised armed       examining the environment in which
  evenge – sometimes there will
 R                                         groupings are trying to achieve by       we work with reference to young
 be a very specific incident, which        recruiting young people into their       people, taking into consideration
 is perceived to be an attack on a         ranks. Going back to the different       the structures that shape young
 specific group or community that          perspectives of young people, it is      people’s lives such as political,
 leads a young person to choose            often the ‘troublemaker’ perspective     educational and social structures,
 to ‘join up’.                             of young people that dominates           and the historical and cultural
                                           discussion of the rationale for youth    context, as well as identifying their
  topian vision – there is some
 U                                         recruitment. Militias can sometimes      key characteristics. It is important to
 evidence that young women,                exploit the way in which a community     remember that young people are the
 particularly young mothers,               might perceive a particular young        only true experts when it comes to
 have been influenced by a vision          person or group of young people          their own experiences – they are our
 of a utopian society – such as,           as being ‘out of control’ by using       teachers about what it is like to be a
 ‘Daeshland’ – that is free from           intimidation tactics to bring them       young person in the here and now.
 crime and poverty, a place of safety,     under their control.                     Youth workers need to take time to
 equality and solidarity. This has                                                  analyse the context and explore how
 motivated some young women to             Research has shown that young
                                           people can be viewed as ‘cheap,          young people make sense of and
 attempt to travel to conflict zones                                                experience their locality and society
 such as Syria, in order to join Islamic   effective, and obedient fighters’
                                           (Kemper in Magnuson & Baizerman,         more broadly.
 State’s state-building efforts.
                                           2007). Child Soldiers International      The tool ‘Mapping Your Community’
  ‘buzz’ – the sense of excitement
 A                                         has recorded the involvement of tens     on page 12 can be used to create a
 that some young people experience         of thousands of child soldiers in most   visual representation of how you or
 as a result of their involvement in       armed conflicts and in almost every      the young people you work with see
 violence, such as street violence,        region of the world since 2000, with     the community. It can be particularly
 should not be underestimated –            young people often controlled and        helpful in highlighting the areas
 particularly in communities where         exploited as conflict ‘fodder’.          where young people feel safe and
 there is a lack of youth provision                                                 showing differences in perspectives
 or where extremist groups seek                                                     between different groups.
 to incite violence by arranging
 demonstrations that result in
 civil unrest.
                                           It is important to remember that young
                                           people are the only true experts when it
                                           comes to their own experiences – they are
                                           our teachers about what it is like to be a
                                           young person in the here and now
TERRA is a European project that
focuses on preventing radicalisation
and supporting de-radicalisation.
Its website:
offers materials for professionals
to understand and respond to
radicalisation. In addition, the project
has produced a number of short
films with victims of terrorism and
former radicals, as well as a variety
of professionals currently working
in this area:

A culture of                             include representatives of armed
                                         groups, as well as parents, teachers,
                                                                                   An opportunity to resolve
violence?                                leaders of extra-curricular activities,
                                         local community leaders and police
                                                                                   ‘Police and law enforcement
                                                                                   officers are using ethnic profiling
It is also essential, as part of         officers. At the age of 15 or 16, this    when they view people as
understanding local contexts, to         requires a complex set of skills in       suspicious because of who they
explore the extent to which a culture    order to stay safe, let alone succeed.    are, what they look like, or where
of violence exists and the extent
to which violence manifests itself
in different ways – for example, in
                                         This highlights                           they pray, rather than because
                                                                                   of what they have done.’ – Open
domestic violence, hate crime or         the importance of                         Society Justice Initiative and
                                                                                   European Network Against
alcohol-related violence, experiences
of intimidation or bullying, public      enabling young                            Racism, 2009.
disorder and rioting, political
violence emanating from violent          people to teach us                        A youth worker from Northern
demonstrations, as well as in military
actions overseas. Violence may have
                                         what it is like to be                     Ireland told the story of one
                                                                                   young man whose brother had
an on-going impact on a number of
aspects of the lives of young people;
                                         a young person in                         been involved in paramilitary
                                                                                   activity. The police raided the
it may become normalised as part         their neighbourhood                       family’s home, were abusive to
of everyday life and accepted as ‘the
way things are’.                         and to support them                       the mother and damaged the
                                                                                   house. While the raid may have
Moreover, those in power may
sometimes consider that their
                                         to have a sense of                        been a necessary action, it was
                                                                                   the tactics used by the police
interests are best served by
allowing a culture of violence –
                                         ownership of what                         that had a knock-on effect on
                                                                                   the young man and his peer
with conflicting factions becoming       they want to do in                        group. As the youth worker
                                                                                   described it, ‘they went after
further entrenched in their opposing
positions – to continue.                 their lives                               one radical and created several
                                         Youth workers need to reflect on          others in the process.’
Societies across Europe have many
sources of difference – socio-           their own context and on the young
economic, political, ethnic and          people they work with as they seek        A report by the Institute for
religious lines. It is important that    to address the topic of extremism,        Security Studies on radicalisation
these are considered carefully as        and to actively engage in this process    in Kenya found that: ‘Political
part of contextual analysis.             with young people. A useful tool          factors have pushed Muslim
                                         in reflecting on our local context is     youth to join extremist groups
Young people may see violence as a
                                         action research. This can also help       as a counter-reaction to or way
legitimate way of handling conflict,
                                         to identify the divisions present in      of retaliating against what they
they may be ready to use it as a
                                         our communities.                          see as “collective punishment”
means of advancing a particular
cause, or they may find it difficult                                               that is driven by a misguided
to see solutions or alternatives to
violence. The sense of powerlessness
                                         Action research                           perception that all Muslims are
                                                                                   terrorists or potential terrorists.’
experienced by many young people         Action research is a process that         Radicalisation in Kenya:
should not be disregarded in terms       practitioners can use to examine          Recruitment to al-Shabaab
of how it motivates some young           the interventions they carry out          and the Mombasa Republican
people to take extreme actions. This     with young people, and to find ways       Council, Anneli Botha, Institute
reinforces the need to talk openly       to enhance them – particularly            for Security Studies, 2014.
and directly with young people           by improving the fit with the local
about violence – and to explicitly       context. Exploring answers to key
                                         questions, particularly with young        Online resources
name issues such as racism and
sectarianism as issues of violence,      people, is often the starting point       A number of activities that
in order to challenge the prevailing     for this approach. In the context         will help you to explore
culture and to find alternatives.        of extremism and radicalisation,          the dynamics of your local
                                         action research can enable youth          community are available online:
It is also worth noting the complexity   workers to identify the most relevant     Understanding contested
of young people’s lives – not just in    practices and to build practical          spaces; Understanding inter-
terms of pressure to succeed, or         projects on the basis of responses        group tensions; Mapping
pressure to fit in, but also in terms    to the questions.                         organisations, programmes,
of community expectations. For
                                         A further extension of this approach      projects and services:
example, young people from inner-
                                         is youth participatory action   
city neighbourhoods can spend a
                                         research, where young people are          cultural-diversity/publications/
significant amount of time managing
competing demands and pressures          directly involved in leading action
from different sources – which may       research activities.

Mapping your community exercise
To develop a profile of your local community, exploring how it shapes life
for young people, and to consider why things are the way they are.
Resources required:
Large piece of paper e.g. flipchart or card.
Think through the following questions and note down
your responses.
1. On a single sheet of paper (the larger the better) draw a rough outline
    of what you take to be your local community. Leave enough space inside
    and outside of the boundary to write.
2. Now, focus on the inside of the boundary.
a. W
    here are the major landmarks? What institutions exist
   (places of worship, schools, etc.)?
b. What types of businesses are in the community and where are they
    located? What youth organisations, associations or community clubs
    exist? Place all of these on your map.
c. What groups of people are located in the community? Do they
    frequent or occupy a particular location? How do they move within the
    community? Where are young people in the community? What space is
    available to them?
d. What youth programmes, initiatives, opportunities exist? Where?
   What space is safe, dangerous or open and safe only sometimes
   during the day for young people?
e. What space is off-limits to young people?
f. W
    here does violence take place? Where can young people go
   to be protected, or feel safe?
g. How does the space change at night?
h. H
    ow does the space change at particular times of the year, around
   specific events or when certain things happen?
3. N
    ow focus on the outside. What are the perceived threats to the local
   community? Where do these threats come from? Who are the outsiders
   who come into the community regularly? Where do they come from?
   Why? Who decided the shape of your community? For what reasons?
   What changes might affect its future shape and boundaries?
4. N
    ow think about the map from your own perspective: Where are the
   places that you frequent? Why these places? What places are safe for
   you to visit? Which are not? Can you go into some of these places with
   others? Who? What do you have to look out for as you walk in these
   places? How has this place changed over time for you?
5. N
    ow consider the questions above, how does the information you
   gathered and listed provide an answer to the questions? What questions
   does it not answer? Why? What new questions emerge?
(Based on Building Democracy with Young People in Contested Spaces:
A Handbook for Critically Reflective Practice that challenges cultures of
violence by Ross Velure Roholt, Laura McFall, Michael Baizerman, and
Paul Smyth (2008))

Advantages of using
The points raised regarding
action research highlight the
way in which questions can
enhance our own professional
development and practice, as
well as enable others to get more
out of the process.
  way of orienting to, looking at,
 and thinking about something.
 Make planning explicit
 and conscious.
  eep you self-reflective about
 your thoughts and practice.
  xamining whether your
 programme works and whether
 your practice is effective.
  revent you from getting blinded
 by your opinions and beliefs.
  acilitate communication and
 true dialogue, with oneself and
 with others.
 Encourage others to learn
 from themselves.
 Invite participation. To ask
  someone something is to invite
  them to be involved in doing
  something together, to join
 in and be(come) a member.
  elp keep your work
(Based on Building Democracy
with Young People in Contested
Spaces, Ross Velure Roholt,
Laura McFall, Michael Baizerman
and Paul Smyth (2008))

Questions for reflection
  ow does violence manifest
 itself in the community where
 you work?
 What fault lines of divisions
 are present in your local/
 national context?
  hen is violence seen as
 legitimate – by young people/by
 those living in your community?
 In what ways can you
  involve young people in
  asking questions about the
  neighbourhoods in which they
  live, go to school, work and
  ow could you involve young
 people in action research to
 understand your local context
 and to develop action projects
 that address the key issues?

Part 3: How youth
     work can make a

One of the distinctive features of youth work, and                             Values

particularly, non-formal education, is its value base                          The values that shape youth
                                                                               work practice are not solely
– that is, the values that inform the way we work with                         focused on change within
young people (such as diversity, justice and equity).                          individual young people. They
                                                                               are also linked to our aspirations
This sets it apart from other learning approaches.                             for the world and our thoughts
                                                                               on what contributes to the
The ethos of non-formal learning       It is important that as youth           common good. Youth work
for young people contrasts with        workers we acknowledge we are           can therefore be considered
curriculum-based or treatment-         role models; we must pursue             an ethical practice with the
focused approaches. The emphasis       congruence between the way we live      youth worker supporting young
is on supporting personal and social   our own lives and the lives we are      people in their journey of
development, where the young           encouraging and supporting young        understanding what it means to
person is in the driving seat and      people to live.                         live a good life. It is also strongly
their decision whether or not to       It also means recognising that we       influenced by our orientation
participate is respected.              bring our beliefs and values to         towards young people – that
Examples of key values for work with   everything that we do – and these       is, the stance we take towards
young people include:                  have the potential to influence young   young people, how we interpret
                                       people. It takes an exceptional level   what it means to be a young
  espect for people – seeing the
 R                                                                             person, and how we respond to
 good in everyone, treating others     of honesty, integrity and moral
                                       judgement to help young people          young people.
 with dignity and acknowledging the
 uniqueness of others.                 explore their own values and beliefs
                                       without imposing your own.              Definition
  romotion of well-being –
 placing the focus of our work                                                 Congruence is about the
 on the welfare of all.                It takes an                             ability of the youth worker to
  ruth – a commitment to
 seeking truth and ensuring that
                                       exceptional                             be genuine and for the way in
                                                                               which they carry out their work
 we do not teach what is false, that
 we act with integrity and that we
                                       level of honesty,                       to reflect the values of non-
                                                                               formal learning. For example,
 are open to dialogue.                 integrity and moral                     it would not be congruent for
                                                                               a youth worker carrying out a
  emocracy – not just about having
 a particular political system, but
                                       judgement to help                       drugs education or awareness
                                                                               programme with young people
 also a value in terms of working
 out how we share in a common
                                       young people                            to have a drug habit.

 life and how we can do so in ways     explore their own
 that accommodate differences and
 address inequalities.                 values and beliefs
  airness and equality – ensuring
 that the relationships we have with
                                       without imposing
 young people promote fair and
 equal treatment as well as fair and
                                       your own
 equal access to opportunities.
(Based on Informal Education –
Conversation, Democracy and
Learning – Tony Jeffs and Mark
K Smith).

Identity exercise
       To explore potential links between identity and the process
       of radicalisation.
       Resources required:
       Paper and pens for everyone in the group.
       Description: This exercise enables participants to reflect on what is most
       important to them about their identity, to experience how it might feel to
       lose a core part of who they are.
       1. Ask each participant individually to reflect upon and write down seven
           key aspects, which they feel are the most important to them in terms of
           their identity.
       2. Ask the participants to get into pairs, then to swap papers and review
           each other’s aspects of identity without discussion.
       3. Ask the pairs to return their papers to each other then ask each
           participant to delete two aspects of their identity they feel they can
           live without.
       4. Instruct the pairs to swap papers again and each partner removes
           two further aspects of the other’s identity – this is to be done without
       5. Then the information is returned to the original owners and the pairs
           have a discussion about how they feel having lost a part of their identity.
       6. Ask these questions of the whole group:
       – What are the thoughts and feelings that emerge as a result
         of this exercise?
       – What does this mean for people in terms of a sense of belonging
          and citizenship?
       Thanks to Farkhanda Chaudhry and Ghizala Avan for permission
       to reproduce this exercise that they facilitated during the Preventing
       Youth Extremism seminar in Paris, April 2016.

     The process of exploring values is an          upports young people to be open
     important part of exploring identity.         and honest about themselves;
     Youth workers must acknowledge                 nables them to critically reflect
     their role in supporting young                on the ways different identities are
     people, not only to think about what          interpreted;
     is important to them, but also to
     integrate these values with their              elps them to wrestle with the
     sense of self and the people they             tensions that can come with holding
     want to be in the world.                      multiple identities;
     It can be helpful to think of identity         upports them to name the values
     as made up of two main elements:              they wish to live by.
     self-image and self-esteem. Self-           Recent years have seen the growth
     image (or self-concept) refers to           of issue-based youth work (such as
     how we describe ourselves, and/or           initiatives to support employability)
     knowing that we belong to certain           as well increased policy emphasis
     social groups such as ethnic/religious      on raising levels of educational
     groups. Self-esteem means the value         attainment. These certainly have their
     that we attach to our self-image, and/      place, given the challenges facing
     or the emotional significance of being      young people in the labour market
     part of social groupings.                   across Europe. However, supporting
     In order for young people to benefit        young people’s broader social
     fully from this process, youth workers      development by providing space
     must create a safe environment with         to explore identity is at the heart
     the following features:                     of youth work; it is young-person-
                                                 centred and supports their active
                                                 citizenship (Brent, 2014).

Case Study
                                                                                  Online resources
                                                                                  Some further activities to help
                                                                                  you to explore identity with
                                                                                  young people:
                                                                                  Circles of influence;
                                                                                  the Shape game:
The THINK Project                         Instead, staff members focus on
                                          exploring – without judgement – why
Ethnic Youth Support Team,                those young people feel that way
Swansea, Wales                            and where these ideas have come
                                          from, and on opening up space for
In response to increased activity         discussion and dialogue. They then
by far-right groups in Swansea            take the opportunity to challenge any
since 2010 – sometimes with public        misinformation and to provide young
protests that resulted in street          people with positive experiences of
violence – the Ethnic Youth Support       diversity such as volunteering with
Team set up the Think Project as          a black or minority ethnic/refugee
a non-confrontational method of           organisation.
addressing extremism and racism.
The project works by offering training    The Think Project also offers a range
over three days for young people          of training services to professionals
aged 14–25 (particularly those who        including trainer-training and
are not in education, employment or       programmes to address issues
training) and covers racism, migration,   such as cultural diversity awareness;
asylum, identity and extremism.           Islamophobia; forced marriage;
It emphasises increasing young            honour-based violence; Islamic
people’s understanding and critical       extremism; racism and far-right
thinking skills, by using group work      extremism.
methods – including dialogue and          An external evaluation in 2015 found
discussion. Participants can also gain    the project had achieved a range of
accreditation for completion of the       positive outcomes including providing
programme.                                an effective means for young people
It is important to note that the          to change attitudes and behaviours,
Think Project does not stigmatise         embedding good practice regarding
or criminalise young people who           diversity, and developing new ways of
exhibit racist language or opinions.      tackling the issue of extremism.
EYST and i-works research, 2015

Civic youth work
Any kind of activity undertaken
                                            Civic youth work action cycle
with others in relation to an issue         Aim:
of public interest or concern can           To support a group to develop, design and implement their own action
be considered political activity –          project on an issue that matters to them.
for example, getting together with
                                            Resources: Flipchart paper and markers, internet access
others to set up a food bank for
                                            for research purposes.
families who are struggling financially,
or joining with others to respond to        Description:
changes in a public service, such as,       This model came out of an action research process in Northern
the closure of a hospital. When we          Ireland, whereby Public Achievement staff and volunteers identified key
do something like this we are not           components in how groups worked together to bring about change in their
only being political, we are also           communities. It also draws on the approach to civic youth work described
acting out our citizenship. This            by VeLure Roholt and Baizerman in Civic Youth Work Primer.
reflects an understanding of
citizenship that goes far beyond            Method:
the limited notion of having a              The model is based on four processes that continue throughout the
passport or voting in elections.            group’s activity: relationship building, evaluation, making the project public
                                            and celebrating achievements. As the diagram below illustrates, this is not
When applied to youth work,
                                            a linear process. For a group that meets once a week, about 6–12 months
these ideas build further on the
                                            are usually needed to work through this process.
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                                         building
certain kinds of knowledge, young                                        relationships
people are interpreted as ‘citizens                      end of cycle                      exploring
now.’ Civic youth work is a practice                     celebration                      and defining
that has emerged as a result of this                                                        issues
interpretation of citizenship and of
seeing young people’s capacity to be
initiators and agents of social change.
In contrast to a purely skills-based              project                                           researching
approach to citizenship, civic                    public                                             the issue
youth work draws on the concept
of ‘civic literacy.’ This encourages
young people’s learning on what                                 Reflect Celebrate
it means to be democratic and to                     overall
live democratically – and to learn by               process                                       describing
doing through addressing common                    evaluation                                     problems
problems in collaboration with
Civic youth work could be described                              delivering         designing
as a political approach to youth                                  action           action plan
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 analyse power
relationships and challenge power          In contrast to a purely skills-based
dynamics, particularly in situations
where they feel disempowered.
                                           approach to citizenship, civic youth work
Civic youth work recognises the
importance of its underlying values
                                           draws on the concept of ‘civic literacy.’ This
– particularly fairness, diversity and     encourages young people’s learning on
                                           what it means to be democratic and to
                                           live democratically – and to learn by doing
                                           through addressing common problems in
                                           collaboration with others

In essence, civic youth work focuses       Young people who take part in these      Definition
on supporting a group of young             kinds of interactions are more sure      Touchstone – this is a standard
people as they address an issue of         of who they are, are more aware of       or criterion by which something
importance to them.                        each other, the neighbourhoods they      is judged or recognised. In the
For example, in Belfast a group of         live in and the world around them.       present context, it refers to the
young women taking part in a civic         They have a sense of ownership,          particular qualities of youth
education project became concerned         developed by taking care of things       work and non-formal learning. It
about so-called ‘punishment’               that matter to them, and greater         helps us to understand what is
attacks on other young people in           self-confidence. They are learning       distinctive about what we do.
their community carried out by             to listen to different voices and
paramilitary groupings. Such attacks       have understood what it means
were intended as a kind of vigilante       to collaborate with others. They         Questions for reflection
‘justice,’ meted out to young adults       demonstrate problem-solving skills
                                                                                      ake a list of the values that
for anti-social behaviour. Victims         and have developed stronger critical
                                                                                     you consider to be highly
might be shot in the knees or ankles;      thinking skills. Since these are all
                                                                                     important in your life and work,
some were beaten by paramilitaries         attributes that obstruct extremist
                                                                                     and think of an example when
with baseball bats. There were             behaviours, there is a strong case for
                                                                                     your values have guided you.
even instances where parents were          investing in initiatives that support
                                           civic youth work.                          omplete this sentence: ‘As a
contacted and told to bring their
                                                                                     youth worker you can expect
child for an ‘appointment’. The young      It is clear that the way we work with
                                                                                     me to…’
women worked together to become            young people is no less important
more informed about the extent of          – and arguably more so – than the          hat would a young person
the problem, developed a campaign          content of our work. If we can bring      gain as a result of experiencing
to highlight the issue and lobbied         young people in to a process of           these values?
Northern Ireland’s most senior             exploring values – a process that          hat would your co-workers/
police officer – including calling him     includes discussions on identity and      co-leaders gain as a result of
to account for the performance             provides space for young people to        experiencing these values?
of the police in investigating these       identify what is important to them –
incidents. While the issue could not       then civic youth work can open up          hat would your organisation/
be resolved overnight, the young           new possibilities for young people in     project be like if it encouraged
women were instrumental in keeping         their lives. It can provide the means     its staff and/or volunteers to
it on the agenda of decision makers        for young people to formulate and         reflect these values?
and public servants – and in the           express ideas and opinions, to             oes the vision of your
public eye.                                understand what democracy means           organisation/project reflect
The section below outlines some            in the here and now, and to partner       your values?
‘touchstones’ for civic youth work.        with adults in finding ways of making
Regardless of your setting or              a positive difference in their own
professional background, these can         communities and beyond.
be useful in identifying where your
engagement with young people is
consistent with the ethos of civic
youth work.

Touchstones of civic youth work practice
1. The youth worker embodies an on-going invitation to participate.
2. T
    he youth worker embodies an on-going invitation to work democratically
   on issues that the participating young people find meaningful and
   consequential.                                                                   It is clear that the
3. T
    he youth worker approaches young people as willing to work together            way we work with
   on public issues.
4. The youth worker embodies an on-going invitation to work in partnership
                                                                                    young people is
    with young people – involving them always in analysis, decision-making,
    action, evaluation, reflection and follow-up.
                                                                                    no less important
5. The youth worker creates space for active citizenship.                           – and arguably
6. The youth worker attends to the extent of each young person’s participation.     more so – than
7. The youth worker supports praxis (the application of theoretical learning
    to day-to-day practice).                                                        the content of
(Based on VeLure Roholt and Baizerman in Civic Youth Work Primer)                   our work

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