Preventing Radicalisation to Terrorism and Violent Extremism. Family support (Radicalisation Awareness Network, 2018)

Preventing Radicalisation to Terrorism and Violent Extremism. Family support (Radicalisation Awareness Network, 2018)

This approach aims to support families vulnerable to and dealing with radicalisation and violent extremism.

The role of families in the process or radicalisation has become central to the debate on the prevention of radicalisation leading to violent extremism. Many believe that one of the keys to stopping the process at an early stage lies behind the door of the family home. Proponents of this approach believe that building resilience and creating awareness for parents and other family members will mean that young people are better protected from extremist influences.

In reality, families may be both helpful and harmful in radicalisation processes.1 A distinction should be made between families’ intentions and their actual behaviour. Families can be the key to creating a safety net and be instrumental in helping someone leave an extremist movement and mind-set. Each scenario and each family’s involvement will be different and requires a detailed analysis and tailored or bespoke solutions. Particular attention should be paid to families of foreign terrorist fighter returnees and families whose members, especially children, returned from conflict zones where they have been indoctrinated and exposed to violence.

However, family members may sometimes do more harm than good because they are unsure how to talk to a relative who they may fear is becoming radicalised. Family members may also explicitly encourage a relative to take an extremist path, as they believe this is the right direction.

Although we talk about families as a whole, the dynamics within families and the roles of each family member will impact radicalisation processes differently. It is therefore important to understand who constitutes the family. Who is part of this group or network of people that considers itself a family? This may differ quite substantially across different cultural backgrounds. Background culture within families might also play an important role in both directions. Once there is an understanding as to who is part of the family, dynamics between these individuals can be observed and analysed. For this to happen, a family’s cooperation is of utmost importance. Additionally, voluntarily cooperation is of crucial importance. It is not the same if the family approaches the support on its own or if it is obliged to do so because one of its members is currently involved in a judicial process.2 Without a family’s commitment, it will be very difficult for ‘outsiders’, whether police, family counsellors, social workers or other actors, to build trust and help build resilient family engagement. Families who do not accept the reality may choose to refuse any professional help or cooperation.

A family’s connection to the wider environment (other families, the community they are part of, institutions) is also a crucial element in family support.

You can find the original publication here

TopicRecruitment, Deradicalization, Rehabilitation and Re-integration, Families


Themes: Recruitment, Deradicalization, Rehabilitation and Re-integration, Families