PREVENTING EXTREMISM A DANISH HANDBOOK SERIES. Methods. for working with. radicalisation

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1 A DANISH HANDBOOK SERIES Methods for working with radicalisation

2 Contents 04 Preface 05 Introduction 06 Extremism and radicalisation 14 Prevention on three levels 18 General preventive efforts 22 Specific preventive efforts 26 Individually oriented preventive efforts 41 Appendix 1 : Frequently used abbreviations in the preventive work 42 Appendix 2 : Concern Form 44 Appendix 3 : Assessment Form 02 Methods for working with radicalisation Methods for working with radicalisation 03

3 Introduction Many people have strong opinions in relation to societal issues, or will question the established norms. That kind of involvement is merely a healthy sign in any democratic society. Preface This publication has been prepared by the Danish Ministry of Social Affairs and Integration, based on an extensive experience gathering and in dialogue with various Danish municipalities, institutions, associations and individuals. We are particularly grateful to the following for their contributions and comments: The Centre for Prevention under the Preventive Security Department at the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) Professor Tore Bjørgo from the Research Department at the Norwegian Police University College in Norway Criminologist Peter Kruize, the University of Copenhagen René Karpantschov, PhD Psychologist Preben Bertelsen, the University of Aarhus Ann-Sophie Hemmingsen, PhD Jon A. Olsen, MA The joint SSP Council The Danish Prison and Probation Service The Municipality of Copenhagen The Municipality of Aarhus. However, in exceptional cases people will undergo a process of radicalisation, which may lead to problematic and sometimes dangerous behaviour. Thus, persons who are motivated by some form of extremist involvement may for instance threaten, pressure or harass other people, or commit acts of vandalism, violence or terror. Both young people and adults are capable of undergoing a radicalisation process. This booklet focuses especially on the preventive work targeted at young people who show signs of radicalisation, or who have connections with extremist environments. Professionals working with youths have a co-responsibility for safeguarding the well-being of the individual young person. At the same time, consideration must be given to the safety and welfare of the communities that the young person is part of, whether in the school or in the local community. Intolerant and aggressive behaviour can undermine the collective safety and mutual trust both in the local communities and in the wider society. This booklet offers examples of the following: The circumstances that make some people become part of extremist environments or help them to break out of them again. Worrying signs and possible preventive initiatives, at a societal as well as at a group and individual level. Methods for interpreting and assessing immediate observations and worrying signs. Methods for carrying out a review of the individual youth and organising an intervention that can motivate and support a positive transformation. You may also wish to consult the following booklets from the handbook series Preventing extremism : 14 cases on handling radicalisation Local strategies Relational work and mentoring Who is this booklet aimed at? This booklet is primarily aimed at personnel working in the preventive SSP co-operation between schools, social services and the police. However, other groups of staff may also benefit from reading this booklet, including social street workers, teachers, educators, welfare officers, local community workers, support persons, contact persons and others who work with young people and their families. The contents and proposed methods in this booklet take their point of departure in the competencies of such personnel in relation to pedagogical and social work. Appendix 1 provides an overview of the frequently used abbreviations for different types of personnel and collaborations in the preventive work. 04 Methods for working with radicalisation Methods for working with radicalisation 05

4 Extremism and radicalisation

5 Extremism and radicalisation Extremism and radicalisation What is extremism and radicalisation? There are many different conceptions of what extremism and radicalisation is, and people will interpret the same behaviour in different ways. In this booklet the concepts are understood as follows: Extremism denotes certain environments and ideas which, among other things, may be characterised by: Simplified world views and enemy images, where certain groups or social conditions are seen to constitute a threat. A lack of respect for other people s freedom and rights. The desire to create a more orderly, pure or just society if necessary, through undemocratic means. Legitimising or using threats, pressure, harassment, vandalism, violence or terror, with reference to conditions in society that one finds unsatisfactory. Intolerance towards the viewpoints of others. Radicalisation denotes a process that may take place gradually or more suddenly, and which, among other things, may be manifested through the following types of behaviour: That a person accepts the ideas and methods of extremism, and eventually joins its organised groups. Why are most people not susceptible to extremism? Most people by far have a healthy scepticism towards extremist environments and ideas that seek to legitimise acts of harassment, vandalism or violence. Most of us also have moral and emotional barriers for harming other people. Our upbringing, education and general involvement in society can also help to develop our critical faculties, democratic competencies and sense of community, which will normally strengthen our natural scepticism towards extremism. However, these factors do not necessarily make us immune to a radicalisation process. Some people may have sound democratic and social competencies and still become radicalised, while others with poor democratic and social competencies will remain unsusceptible to extremism. It all depends on the actual circumstances. Why do some people become part of an extremist environment? Research offers no clear or simple answers as to why radicalisation processes occur. Sometimes we are dealing with complicated processes with many different underlying factors, and other times radicalisation is the result of simpler processes that are triggered by a few decisive factors. Social conditions, group dynamics and personal as well as psychological circumstances can all contribute to radicalisation processes. In the following, we list various examples of factors that may play a role in relation to radicalisation processes. That in many cases, there is an intensive socialisation into a closed group, where the person is being worked on and exposed to an increasingly sharper rhetoric. This may for instance occur through personal talks or through restricted chat rooms on the internet. That the person cuts off normal social relations outside the group, for instance the relations to friends and leisure activities. A de-humanisation takes place, whereby those you consider as your enemies are no longer seen as fellow human beings, which again contributes to legitimising acts of violence. 08 Methods for working with radicalisation Methods for working with radicalisation 9

6 Examples of social factors: Migration and increased cultural diversity, unequal distribution of economic benefits, lack of freedom, corruption, discrimination and armed conflicts around the world are all examples of factors that may contribute to feelings of anger, indignation, of being under pressure, being excluded, without influence, etc., among certain people. Thus, some might feel threatened or upset by phenomena such as immigration, racism, police violence, speculators etc. Often, rather than just being angry on your own behalf, you experience anger on behalf of others, who are seen to be threatened or suffering, and with whom you feel solidarity. To a lot people, such feelings may lead to a peaceful and democratic form of political involvement. But in rare cases, it may contribute to the development of an extremist type of engagement, motivating an abusive or violent behaviour. Extremist groups and individuals exploit such social conditions and emotional responses in their propaganda and efforts to recruit others for their cause. Often facts, views and allegations are mixed up into one simplified and crude explanation, or expressed in one simplified image of the enemy. Along with the extremist groupings ideals of a pure or just society etc., the conception of the enemy contributes to creating a sense of community, mobilising for battle and legitimising violent and other forms of problematic behaviour. The extremist groups use many different types of channels for exerting their influence, such as meetings, the internet, music, leaflets and one-to-one talks. The young people grow up in a society which claims to have equality, justice, pride and tolerance, but that just isn t true. There is racism. And then they don t know what to do, and they react in the way that society has taught them. Person with relations to a convicted terrorist Examples of group dynamics: The individual person s social network and circle of acquaintances (both in real life and on the internet) play a great role, when it comes to the likelihood of developing an extremist frame of mind for instance if you are part of a subculture where conceptions of unjust or threatening conditions in society are used to legitimise violence. In some cases people join an extremist group because of one or more charismatic individuals whom they know and admire. I was drawn towards the things that the people I admired were interested in. I wanted to become part of their conversations and the discourse they were using, so I would talk about the same things as they did, and tried to understand what they were saying, through the filter that they were using. You try to look at the world through the same lens, and my way of looking at things was definitely passed on to me by the group. Person convicted of politically motivated violence We would work out together every day, eat together, go for walks. We did almost everything together. Person convicted of terror planning 10 Methods for working with radicalisation

7 Extremism and radicalisation Examples of personal and psychological factors: The search for status, role models, identity or a sense of community. Some people join extremist circles to feel that they belong somewhere and are significant. For some, it is a personal project of self-staging. For others, the motivation is a need for recognition, for forming social relations and feeling part of a group. Examples of factors that may increase the risk of a person seeking to join an extreme subculture also include low self-esteem, problems in school, difficulties making friends, a lack of close relations with adults, or a sense of alienation towards the normal social communities in one s surroundings. A yearning for excitement and action, the need to test one s boundaries and a fascination with violence, weapons, masculinity, militarism and uniforms, are all examples of proclivities that can be satisfied through extremist environments. Personal crises can contribute to making people particularly susceptible to extremist views, for instance if they have been victims of violence, harassment or discrimination, or left by a partner, or lost a family member or their job. I d love to be able to say that I did it purely for ideological reasons, and that I only saw it as a means to an end. But to be honest, I also did it to gain status and acceptance. And I also did it to... It s like when people jump out of a plane with a parachute; I did this to get a kick. Person convicted of politically motivated violence Shopping around among the different forms of extremism In recent years, there have been several examples of individuals who have switched affiliations between left-wing extremist, right-wing extremist and Islamic circles. In such instances, the primary motivation is not the specific cause or ideology, but something else, such as the need to be part of a group, to be in opposition, a longing for identity or a fascination with militant subcultures. One of the most surprising things that emerged in the interviews was that so many of the young people had skipped from one extremist group to the opposing side and in some cases back again. ( ) It would seem as if those individuals who manage to free themselves of one group s magnetic field are highly exposed to becoming pulled in by the opposite pole. What makes some people disengage from extremism? Some people break out of extremist circles on their own accord. Their motivation can for instance be: That the extremist affiliation no longer fulfills their social and psychological needs, for instance if it is no longer relevant in relation to their personal identity formation or to their need to feel part of a community. That the price of being affiliated with an extremist group is too high, for themselves or their families, for example due to legal prosecutions, enmity with other groups or stigmatisation in society. That there are weaknesses in the organisation or ideologies of the extremist group. Disappointment with the leaders or comrades in the group, who fail to live up to one s expectations. Societal changes that render the extremist engagement less relevant. A loss of faith in the legitimacy of the extremist group s actions, for instance a realisation that the use of violence has gone too far. Disillusionment with how little is achieved through their extremist engagement. That they meet other people and find themselves in new surroundings, for instance through their work or education, which offer new ways of understanding the world. That they develop new interests and priorities, such as a wish for leading a normal life with family and job, without being part of a stigmatised or violent environment. As illustrated above, there may be many different reasons as to why some people undergo a radicalisation process, and why some disengage themselves from extremist ideas and groups again. Typically, when people become radicalised, and also when they change their minds and withdraw from extremism, it is the result of various push and pull factors working together. This is useful knowledge in relation to the work on preventing radicalisation and supporting young people in disengaging themselves from extremism. From: Tore Bjørgo, Yngve Carlsson and Thomas Haaland (2001). Generalisert hat polariserte fellesskap: Om konflikter mellom ungdomsmiljøer i en norsk by (Generalised hatred polarised communities: conflicts between youth groups in a Norwegian city). Oslo: NIBRs Pluss series, Methods for working with radicalisation Methods for working with radicalisation 13

8 Prevention on three levels

9 Prevention on three levels Prevention on three levels Prevention of extremism involves both new and well-known methods Associating with extremist environments constitutes a risk behavior that is comparable to e.g. criminal behaviour, substance abuse or aggressive traffic behaviour. In other words, it is behaviour that in the short or long term may be harmful to oneself or others. When working with the prevention of abusive and violent behaviour in connection with extremism, radicalisation may therefore be seen as a parameter of concern that is comparable to other parameters of concern in the preventive work. Much of the know-how that has been gathered from the preventive work targeted at other types of risk behaviour not least criminal behaviour can also be applied in this context. The preventive work may be carried out on several levels: General preventive efforts. The general preventive work covers the broad range of efforts aimed at all children and young people in Denmark, primarily as a result of the Danish welfare model. This includes home visits from the health care services, the development of social and cognitive competencies in day-care institutions, strengthening the democratic competencies and providing a general civic education of the youngsters in schools, clubs etc. While these efforts fulfill their own purposes, they also have a considerable preventive effect in relation to risk behaviour. An important aspect of the general preventive work is the leverage principle. When working with all children and young people rather than just risk groups, it helps to provide a lift to some of the young people in the risk groups. In this way, a wide of range of professionals working in schools, after-school and youth clubs, day-care institutions, the health care services, associations, libraries etc., are involved in the general preventive work. Specific preventive efforts. Cover more targeted types of efforts, intended to address specific problems, such as substance abuse, street muggings or extremism, or specific groups of vulnerable youths with risk behaviour. The efforts typically take their point of departure in youth pedagogics and are resource oriented, aiming to offer attractive alternatives. It is typically professionals such as teachers, social workers and police officers participating in SSP collaborations, as well as social street workers and staff in youth clubs who work with prevention on the specific level. However, it is assumed that the same types of efforts, such as general civic education through school attendance (general prevention) and relational work with vulnerable youths (specific and individually oriented prevention), will also have an effect in relation to the prevention of extremism. Therefore, when reading this booklet, professionals who work with young people will find many tools that they already know from their general work with prevention. At the same time, new elements are included due to the specific circumstances that apply to radicalisation and extremism. Assess the risks involved in taking action and in being passive Especially in relation to specific and individually oriented efforts, the possible consequences of intervening versus not intervening should be assessed. Such an assessment may include considerations like: Does the intervention involve a risk of adding to the problem and stigmatising the young persons further? Will the youths for instance merely interpret the intervention as a confirmation that the authorities are watching and persecuting them? Is there a risk of dissolving groups or marginalising individuals who perform important social functions, which could curb more serious problems? Is there a risk of misjudging the behaviour of youths by disregarding the context? For instance, external symbols such as tattoos or a specific dress code may be more likely signs of extremism in an environment where the symbols deviate considerably from the norm, than in an environment where they are adopted by many and are considered normal. Is there a risk that the problem will be exacerbated, if no action is taken? Is there a risk that a certain type of worrying or disturbing behaviour will gradually become accepted as normal behaviour, if no action is taken? Individually oriented preventive efforts. These are efforts targeted at individual youths who exhibit some form of risk behavior. This type of intervention is often combined with an intervention targeted at a group. Among other things, it may involve carrying out an assessment and organising the appropriate schemes and measures for the young person, such as affiliating a mentor or support person, and helping the youth to get a job or start an education. The type of personnel working with the individual youths includes educators, social workers, contact persons, mentors and personnel involved in the PSP co-operation and the municipal PPR scheme. On the basis of these three levels of prevention, a range of methods will be described in the following, whose effects have been tested and assessed, especially in relation to crime prevention, abuse and similar types of risk behaviour, but only to a very limited extent in relation to the prevention of extremism. 16 Methods for working with radicalisation Methods for working with radicalisation 17

10 General Preventive efforts

11 General preventive efforts General preventive efforts Worrying signs There are several types of worrying signs which may indicate that there is a need for an increased general preventive effort, for instance in a residential area or in entire cities and communities. Some of the worrying signs that may give cause for intervention are: That many members of the public indicate that they feel unsafe. A widespread lack of mutual trust and a distrust of the institutions of society. The occurrence of violence, vandalism or other types of crime targeted at specific institutions or groups of people. That many feel that they are being discriminated against or treated badly. The marginalisation of specific individuals or social groups. One way of getting an overview of possible worrying signs in a residential area or community is by making a survey of how the personnel working with the residents and young people perceive the local challenges in relation to safety, intolerance, extremism etc. Please see the booklet Mapping local challenges, which is a part of the handbook series Preventing extremism. Another option is to carry out a survey of the community safety or well-being among the residents in an area. See for instance (in Danish only). If necessary, such surveys of the perceptions of different groups can also be supplemented by hard data in the form of statistics, for instance on the demography, reported crimes and social conditions of the area. Possible initiatives In order to strengthen the general preventive effort, the following types of initiatives may for instance be considered: Targeted social initiatives in vulnerable residential areas. Develop initiatives in vulnerable residential areas with a focus on social cohesion. It is often a good idea to carry out such initiatives through a comprehensive and intersectoral co-operation between the municipality, police, housing associations etc. It is also advisable to take a resource-based approach and anchor the initiatives in the community, relying on residents and local groups such as parents networks, voluntary street workers, associations and local businesses. Promoting a critical use of the internet and social media. The schools can make an effort to develop the pupils internet literacy, so as to make them critical of the information they encounter on the internet, both in the social media and on websites. Try to make them reflect on questions such as Who developed this website, and why? and What s the type of argumentation that is being used on the site?. Debating events. Organise interactive forum theatre events, and invite local politicians, guest speakers, role models or others, who can enter into a dialogue on subjects which preoccupy or frustrate the youths. Parents networks. Seek to strengthen the home-school co-operation, and establish parents networks where the parents can exchange advice and concerns, as well as formulate shared views and responses to the young people s behaviour. Reciprocal networks. An educational method that seeks to stimulate solidarity and create social capital in a school class, by promoting mutual recognition and developing new friendships among the pupils. Pupils with different competencies and backgrounds help each other in small networks, so that everyone has the experience of becoming a giver as well as a receiver of social or academic competencies. Both roles involve a learning process, so the purpose of this method is not just to strengthen the vulnerable individuals, but the entire group of pupils collectively. Social sounding. A method that engages school pupils in exercises on social exaggerations and majority misunderstandings. It is a known fact that young people often have an exaggerated perception of other youths risk behaviour, and that this may increase the risk behaviour of individuals. Making the young people realise that their conceptions do not always correspond with reality can contribute to preventing risk behaviour. Addressing stereotypes. Consider addressing any stereotypes that may prevail among professionals, parents as well as the young people themselves, such as the notions that all problems among certain youths are culturally conditioned, that the youths are constrained by a social inheritance, and that they are either victims or criminals. You can read more about general preventive efforts at and (in Danish only). Citizenship and inclusion. Develop initiatives and educational practices in relation to citizenship and inclusion, in the schools and in connection with leisure activities. Try to strengthen the pupils accountability, well-being and solidarity, as well as their competencies in relation to critical thinking, communication, empathy, identity, reflection, conflict resolution etc. You may for instance focus on the school s overall management policy, pupil democracy, form time, formulating a pupils code of conduct and incorporating democracy-enhancing activities in the teaching plans, for instance by working with dilemma exercises. 20 Methods for working with radicalisation Methods for working with radicalisation 21

12 Specific Preventive efforts

13 Specific preventive efforts Specific preventive efforts Worrying signs Worrying signs in relation to possible extremism in youth environments are often connected to some form of collective change from one type of behaviour to another. This often manifests itself as visible signs of change, which professionals are able to address, for instance in their daily dialogue with the young people. Worrying signs of change that could be related to some form of emerging extremism include: The youths signal views and messages by using totalitarian brands and symbols. The youths show a preoccupation with conspiracy theories, simplified enemy images, hatred towards specific groups etc. The youths argue that, under certain circumstances, it is legitimate to use violence to change things in society. The youths give up existing leisure activities and friendships, and seek to fulfill their needs for social relations, identity etc. in a subculture which displays some of the above signs. If a group of young people displays one or more worrying signs, it is not necessarily a case of radicalisation or extremism, but it may give occasion for carrying out a closer assessment, and possibly initiating some form of intervention targeted at the youths. Work with the outer layers of the group. Peeling the group is a method that focuses on the followers and other peripheral members of the group. These members have usually invested less in the group and are often less ideologically committed than the leaders of the group. Therefore, the peripheral members are usually easier to influence. Prevention workers can put this to use by offering them alternative and more productive strategies. Work with the core of the group. Another strategy is to work with the leading members of the group. The more individuals you can establish relations to and influence positively at the core of the group, the easier it becomes to exert a positive influence on the group as a whole. Set up parents or family networks. Youths are normally bonded to or feel responsible towards their families, just as the families feel a responsibility towards their youths. By establishing contacts between the families of particularly vulnerable youths, it becomes possible to discuss the shared concerns for the young people and agree on a shared strategy for helping them to find more viable alternatives. See also the section below on How to organise an assessment and a supportive intervention. This offers examples of how to work with risk factors, protective factors, motivational factors, ideological factors and barriers. See also the booklet Relational work and mentoring. See also the section on individually oriented prevention efforts, which gives a more detailed description of worrying signs. Possible initiatives There are various tools available for the preventive and pedagogical work targeted at youth groups and youth environments. These tools can also be applied in connection with extremist youth environments. Examine the needs and motivation of the young people. Try to uncover what needs the youths are seeking to fulfill in an extremist environment, that are not fulfilled in more normal contexts. It might for instance be the need for thrills, the need to be part of a community or a wish for social change. Establish relations to smaller groups with similar motivations. Try to build relations to smaller groups of e.g. 2-4 youths, with the same type of motivations and needs. The purpose of such relational work is to challenge and motivate the young people and offer them attractive alternatives. 24 Methods for working with radicalisation Methods for working with radicalisation 25

14 Individually oriented preventive efforts

15 Individually oriented preventive efforts Individually oriented preventive efforts Worrying signs Many municipalities have prepared guidelines on worrying signs and possible initiatives in relation to crime, substance abuse etc. The following can be seen as a supplement to that, and may be incorporated into existing guidelines. There is no simple recipe or checklist of worrying signs, which can help to determine with certainty if a person is undergoing a radicalisation process. In each case an individual assessment must be made. However, if various behavioural changes or worrying signs seem to occur at the same time, it might justify making further investigations or discussing the concern with the youth, his or her family, colleagues, one s superiors or the local SSP co-operation. Worrying signs may for instance be related to: Behavior The young person shows an interest in websites, literature or films with violent/extremist contents. The young person is involved in events that give cause for concern, such as violent clashes or meetings where extremist messages are disseminated. The young person makes use of totalitarian symbols, for instance through his or her way of dressing, or through tattoos or posters in his or her room. The young person is involved in violent or criminal acts, or displays other forms of serious risk behaviour. Views The young person expresses intolerance towards other people s viewpoints, rejects democratic principles or moralises and seeks to impose his or her convictions on others. Relations The young person is isolated or in conflict with his or her family. The young person makes new friends and has affiliations with persons or groups that give cause for concern, possibly persons who are known for criminal behaviour or extremist views. The young person has severed his or her relations to existing friends and given up leisure activities. Worrying signs may occur in many ways and signify many things Worrying behaviour can manifest itself in many different ways and can be detected by very different types of personnel. It may be an educator at the youth club or the homework café who observes a young person s internet activities. It may be parents who contact a teacher because they are concerned about something their child has said or done. Or it may be a social street worker who notices worrying changes of behaviour among certain youths in a residential area. In this context it is important to interpret the observed signs in a professional manner. As a professional, one must consider whether the young person s behaviour could be interpreted as a cry for attention, the symptom of a personal welfare problem and/or simply as a natural part of the young person s identity formation process, in the course of which he or she is showing a fascination for different subcultures. In any event, worrying signs merely represent immediate observations. Whether the young person is actually going through a radicalisation process can in many cases only be determined by carrying out a more detailed assessment of the youth. See also the section on How to organise an assessment and a supportive intervention. The young person is preoccupied with conspiracy theories, simplified enemy images and expresses hatred towards specific groups, whether it is Jews, Muslims, Danes, Capitalists, Immigrants, Homosexuals or others. The young person advocates absolute solutions, such as the eradication of a certain group of people or the bombing of specific targets. The young person seeks to legitimise such views by expressing indignation over conditions in society or the world. 28 Methods for working with radicalisation Methods for working with radicalisation 29

16 Individually oriented preventive efforts Possible initiatives Possible initiatives in relation to the individual youth include following up on immediate concerns, and, if there is basis for it, carrying out an assessment and a supportive intervention for the young person. How to follow up on immediate concerns Appendix 2 below contains a Concern Form, which can be used to record and assess worrying signs, and in this way provide a basis for possible further efforts in relation to the young person. It can also be used for assessing the risk of initiating or not initiating certain types of measures. Depending on the assessment of the worrying signs and the general situation of the young person, there are several options: Establish a dialogue. As a teacher, educator or other professional in close contact with the young person, you should, as far as possible, use your pedagogical competencies to build trust and enter into a dialogue with the young person, the parents or others affiliatiated with him or her. In some cases it may be necessary to establish the dialogue through another person whom the youth trusts. See also the booklet Relational work and mentoring, which is part of the handbook series Preventing extremism. Involve your superior or your colleagues. Draw on the pedagogical and professional resources available to you. It is important not to overreact, but to get different viewpoints as to whether further action is necessary and, if so, who should follow up on the matter. Hold an interdisciplinary meeting. If there is concern that a young person is involved or at risk of becoming involved in illegal activities in connection with an extremist affiliation, an interdisciplinary meeting can be arranged to identify the challenges and available resources in relation to the youth. This can for instance be organised within the framework of the SSP co-operation between the schools, social services and the police. If the young person is over 18 years old, it may be an idea to involve the local Youth Guidance Centre. In connection with young persons over 18 who show signs of mental health problems or personality disorders, it may be an advantage to hold such interdisciplinary meetings within the framework of the PSP co-operation between the police, the social and the psychiatric services. Hold a network meeting involving the family. Mobilising both the professional and the closest relational networks around the youth, including the family, makes it possible to develop a strong initiative where the family takes ownership of the problems and the solutions. Carry out preventive talks. If a young person has committed specific acts that fall foul of the law, a preventive talk can be held with the young person and his or her parents. Such talks are normally arranged by the police, and it is usually a good idea to hold them in co-operation with the local SSP coordinator. Preventive talks will often be conducted in a very direct and confrontational manner. In some cases, this can be an efficient way of making the youth question his or her own behaviour and help to strengthen the parents role in solving the problem. Notify the local authorities about well-founded concerns. If you work with young people under 18 years old and you learn about a youth with serious welfare problems related to extremism, requiring special support under the Danish Social Services Act, it is your duty as a professional to notify the local authorities. Also see the text box with information about the Danish Social Services Act at the end of this booklet. Report well-founded concerns to the police. If you have grounds for suspecting that illegal acts have or will be committed in connection with a young person s affiliation with extremism, you should report it to the local police. Carry out an assessment and prepare a supportive intervention for the young person. If the professional observations of a young person justify it, a closer assessment may be carried out, possibly followed up by an overall supportive intervention for the young person. For further details, see the following section. Exchanging personal information If authorities wish to exchange information about a young person, they must as a general rule obtain consent from those who have the parental custody, if the young person is under 18 years old, or from the young person him- or herself, if he or she is over 18 years old. However, the SSP, PSP and SSD co-operations have legal authority to exchange personal information without such prior consent, if important considerations warrant this, and as long as the requirements of the relevant legal provisions are met. How to organise an assessment and a supportive intervention Carrying out an assessment of the young person can help professionals to determine whether he or she is so influenced by extremist thoughts, or so closely affiliated with an extremist group that it threatens the personal welfare of the youth or the safety of his or her surroundings. Conversely, an assessment may also show that the problem is not as big as initially suspected. In order to prepare an assessment, the SSP consultant, AKT teacher or similar professional may arrange a network meeting with those other professionals who work with the youth on a daily basis, so as to highlight and assess the following issues: Risk factors Protective factors Motivational factors Ideological factors Barriers These factors, and how to work with them, are explained and discussed further in the following sections, as well as in the booklet Relational work and mentoring. Generally speaking, the work revolves around building a relation to the young person, entering into a dialogue about his or her life situation and trying to motivate positive change. 30 Methods for working with radicalisation Methods for working with radicalisation 31

17 Individually oriented preventive efforts Risk factors Risk factors are personal, family-related or social circumstances which are known to increase the probability that a person becomes susceptible to unwanted influences. Thus, they are in contrast to protective factors, which are illustrated below. Studies of risk factors and protective factors are especially known from the area of criminal research. Obviously, when a person gets a high risk factor score, it does not necessarily follow that he or she is delinquent or involved in a radicalisation process. Similarly, some individuals who are attracted to criminal or extremist environments may still have a low risk factor score. Examples of risk factors include: Personal risk factors A low frustration threshold in persons who are easily frustrated when facing adversity, whether it is in their own personal lives or in groups with which they identify. Poor competencies in relation to problem solving, reasoning and reflection. Mental health problems and personality disorders. Problems with substance abuse. Family-related risk factors Poor level of attachment to the family. The family is dysfunctional, for instance due to poor parenting skills. Social problems in the family. Mental health problems in the family. Violence or other forms of neglect in the family. The parents or other members of the family are hostile towards society, or show sympathy towards extremist ideas or groups. Social risk factors Negative influences among the young person s friends and acquaintances. Poor affiliations to and few relations in social communities, such as school, work and associations. Protective factors Examples of protective factors that reduce the susceptibility to unwanted influences include: Personal protective factors A high frustration threshold in persons who are not easily frustrated when faced with adversity, whether it is in their personal lives or in groups with which they identify. Developed competencies in relation to problem solving, reasoning and reflection. Mental stability. Family-related protective factors Good family relations. Having a well-functioning family. The parents or other members of the family have a positive attitude towards society, possibly dissociating themselves from extremist ideas. The parents or other family members have the resources to support the young person in a positive way. Social protective factors Positive relations and resources among the young person s friends and acquaintances. The young person has a girlfriend/boyfriend. Affiliations to and positive relations within social communities, such as school, work and associations. Strive to boost the protective factors, thereby reducing the significance of the risk factors For instance: By addressing the social problems of the entire family and helping to enable the family to support the young person as much as possible. By helping the young person to form better social relations, for instance by promoting dialogue and social interaction in his or her class, or by supporting his or her participation in leisure activities. By improving the young person s ability to deal with anger, frustration or mental health problems, for instance by referring the youth to therapy or relevant courses. By including classroom exercises that can strengthen problem solving and reflection competencies, for instance exercises where the pupils must debate on a given issue from different viewpoints or take a stand on difficult dilemmas. 32 Methods for working with radicalisation Methods for working with radicalisation 33

18 Individually oriented preventive efforts Motivational factors Most of us really have the same fundamental needs, although it is highly individual which of our needs are most important to us, and how such needs influence and motivate our behaviour. Examples of needs that influence people s motivation include: The search for identity. The need for togetherness with others. The need for recognition. The need for making sense (such as making sense of one s own life ). The need to make a difference. The need for control over other people or over one s own life. The need for a role model. The need for thrill and action. The need for protection. Such fundamental needs are perfectly legitimate. But as possible motivational factors, they both have a constructive and a destructive potential. Depending on the circumstances, the same basic motives could spur a positive development for one person, with improved competencies and stronger social participation as a result, while in another person they could lead to negative behaviour in a criminal or extremist environment. Thus, when working with motivational factors it is important to be aware that the same fundamental motives may have the potential for both negative and positive change. See also the section Why do some people become part of an extremist environment?. Seek to activate the young person s motivation in a positive and legitimate way Examples: The young person has identity-related or social needs which can be met, for instance by entering into a dialogue on existential matters or by helping the young person to build new social relations through a job, education or participation in youth club activities or associations. Ideological factors If a young person is affiliated with extremism, either in real life or on the internet, it will be relevant to take an interest in his or her ideological standpoint. However, it is usually not advisable to engage in a head-on discussion about ideology and social issues as the first thing, unless the young person invites such a discussion. Generally, it is better to start by building a relation of trust, exploring the life situation of the youth and working with his or her motivation. In some cases, such an effort will suffice in making the youth begin to see the extremist environment as less attractive, and an ordinary youth lifestyle as a more attractive alternative. But in many cases, there will also be a need for challenging the young person s assumptions and arguments. In this connection, it may be useful to try to uncover the ideological factors at play, so as to better understand the young person. As a rule of thumb, it is best to establish a dialogue with the young person him- or herself, but you can also seek information and co-operation from the family, friends and professionals who know the young person. Among the issues that may be examined are: Driving force. What is it that drives the young person, for instance frustration or indignation? Can the young person s behaviour and viewpoints be seen as part of a wider reaction to events and conditions in society or the world? World view. Does the young person express a polarised outlook, enemy images or conspiracy theories, which draw a picture of the world as being controlled by evil forces? Rhetoric. Does the young person show sympathy for absolute solutions, such as the abolition of democracy, terror or violence towards specific groups of people? Legitimisation. Does the young person advance arguments which justify terror, violence or other criminal acts? Consistency. Does the young person have a coherent and profound, or an incoherent and superficial understanding of the ideology in question? Engagement. Does the young person appear responsible and committed to the cause? Consequences. What consequences do the ideological views have for the young person s relations to his or her family, friends and schoolmates, participation in the local community, prospects for the future etc.? The young person has a need for excitement, which for instance can be met by involving him or her in sports activities that are physically challenging, or by encouraging the youth to train for firefighter, ambulance driver, police officer, or consider similar action-oriented vocational training. The young person displays a commitment to social issues, which for instance can be accommodated by encouraging him or her to participate in social or humanitarian relief work, in Denmark or abroad. 34 Methods for working with radicalisation Methods for working with radicalisation 35

19 Individually oriented preventive efforts Work with the young person s ideological engagement Examine the consistency of his or her ideological engagement. If the young person s ideological thinking appears to be very incoherent and superficial, attention should probably be focused on other factors. Remember that the young person s ideological engagement is often connected to strong emotions. Try to appear neutral and explorative, rather than controlling and confrontational. Express respect, and create an atmosphere which enables the youth to explore his or her own attitudes and viewpoints, for example by taking it seriously if the youth expresses indignation over certain conditions in society, or by recognising any positive aspects of the ideology. If the young person expresses doubts about certain parts of the ideology, this can be used as an opening for providing arguments and constructive alternatives. In this connection, you can point to negative aspects of the extremist engagement, for instance that the youth limits his or her own opportunities, or that the youth or those close to the youth are faced with negative reactions. If the young person appears to be indifferent about negative reactions and does not feel that the ideological commitment has any considerable costs, it may prove difficult to work with this aspect. In such cases, it may be a good idea to start by focusing on the young person s life situation instead. Barriers Regardless of whether the young person wishes to break out of an extremist group or not, there can be barriers that prevent the youth from doing so. If that is the case, there might be a need to identify these barriers and help the youth to deal with them. Possible barriers include: Peer pressure from the others in the group. The experience of being stigmatised. Fear of enemies outside the group. Physical identity markers, such as tattoos. Financial insecurity. 36 Methods for working with radicalisation Methods for working with radicalisation 37

20 Individually oriented preventive efforts Work with those barriers that inhibit the young person in leaving the extremist environment You can help the youth in overcoming group pressures and feelings of stigmatisation or fears by offering mental support and assisting him or her in forming new social relations through education, participation in associations, youth clubs etc. Fear of enemies within or outside the group can also be addressed by offering the young person protection, and if relevant help to become integrated in a new environment. The young person may be supported in changing his or her style of appearance or getting tattoos removed. In relation to financial insecurity, the youth may get help to find a job or start an education. To sum up, when working with the individual young person, the following issues should be in focus: How protective factors can be activated so as to compensate for risk factors. How the young person s own motivation can be used positively. How extremist views that seek to justify violence can be challenged. How physical, mental or social barriers can be overcome. How to carry out the assessment As mentioned previously, the framework for carrying out an assessment of the young person will typically be a network co-operation between different professionals who work with the youth. Appendix 3 contains an Assessment Form, which can be used, partly to get an overview of the relevant risk and protective factors, motivational factors, ideological factors as well as barriers, and partly to identify possible forms of intervention. Where necessary, a supportive intervention may be planned and organised on the basis of the form, so as to bring about changes in the young person s life situation, including preventing a possible radicalisation or supporting a disengagement from extremism. How to organise the supportive intervention In connection with organising a supportive intervention for the young person, the following may, for instance, be considered: Participants. Which professionals, which authorities and which associations if relevant should be involved? Should the parents or other members of the young person s family and/or social network be involved? Relational work and mentoring. Should the intervention efforts involve a targeted personal relation and dialogue, for instance by assigning a contact person, support person, mentor or similar, to the youth? Practical and social support. Should the young person be offered assistance, for instance in getting a job, starting an education, becoming involved in associations or finding a flat? Should the work include home visits in the family, parental guidance or similar measures? Personal plan. Especially in connection with mentorships, it will be an advantage to prepare a personal plan in co-operation with the young person. A personal plan is based on the idea that only the young person can change his or her own life. Thus, it is a collaborative tool by which the mentor and the youth can identify the youth s dreams and wishes, and thereby motivate changes in his or her life situation, whether it is major or minor changes. This could include improving the young person s relations to the school, his or her classmates or parents, attending a new youth club, getting an apprenticeship, finding a girl-/boyfriend or leaving the old environment. The important thing is that it is founded on a genuine wish for something constructive in the young person s life. You can read more about this in the booklet Relational work and mentoring. Making a contract with the youth. In some cases it may be a good idea to formulate a written agreement, or a contract, with the young person, in order to strengthen his or her sense of commitment. In such a contract it may for instance be agreed that the youth should get an after-school job or join some sports activity, that he or she must attend school or avoid any criminal behaviour etc. The contract can be formulated in connection with making a personal plan. Individual and group. If the young person is a member of a group with extremist views, it should be considered whether the individual measures should be coordinated with efforts targeted at other group members or at the group as a whole. It should also be assessed whether the young person has a central or peripheral position in the group. See also the booklet Relational work and mentoring for a further discussion of how a close interpersonal contact and dialogue can contribute to positive changes in the young person s life. Many of the possibilities for supporting young persons are provided for by the Danish Social Services Act The concrete possibilities for supportive interventions for young persons under the age of 18 are primarily provided for by the Danish Social Services Act. For instance, the youth can be assessed under the Act s provision on the reviewing of children by professionals. The Social Services Act also contains various measures which can be useful in relation to solving the problems and needs that are identified in connection with the professional review. For instance, according to the Social Services Act it is possible to appoint a permanent contact person for the youth. This contact person can, among other things, function as a mentor. A range of other measures are also possible under the Act, such as organising traineeships, stays at educational establishments or full-time institutions, as well as family therapy. Under certain conditions, it is possible to extend such arrangements until the youth reaches the age of 23 years old. Laws and regulations are continually subject to change. Therefore you should always check the current legislation, to see what possibilities are available. 38 Methods for working with radicalisation Methods for working with radicalisation 39

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