Why are we losing youth to Al Shabaab? This is a question that should be in every person’s mind when thinking about peace and security. We face grave danger as a nation when we are exposed to violent extremism and terrorism.
Youth radicalization and conversion to terrorism needs to be a top priority of every leader, parent, and all citizens at large. To tackle recruitment of youth, we must look into different factors that may push or pull them into the organizations, some of them being: identity crisis, discrimination, social media influence, economic inequalities, lack of education or information, political differences, twisted ideologies, poverty leading to idleness and low self-esteem, among others. The extremist groups and recruiters take advantage of the known or existing youth grievances and use the issues to engage them, offering an outlet to their frustrations which lures the youth into joining their cause in terrorism against innocent civilians.
Having identified the issues affecting youth and driving them into terrorism, a number of questions come to mind: How do we ensure that our youths never set foot into violent extremism and terrorism? What can we do to ensure that the youth are not radicalized? One of the effective responses would be creating awareness and coming up with educational materials, workshops, barazas and focus groups to educate the youth on CVE so as to empower them to identify when they are being targeted or influenced to join violent extremists. Another effective way would be through involving the youth by getting information from them on the key drivers and root causes of radicalization and violent extremism in their communities or local areas, consulting and involving them in policymaking and law enforcement. Through this inclusion, young people would be in a position to think independently and challenge extreme narratives and also be used as a voice in P/CVE.
Empowerment is the most essential way to reduce radicalization among youths. As leaders, parents, guardians, senior citizens and as a community, we should uphold the values of respect, pluralism, inclusiveness, and openness. We should highlight living examples of these values as much as possible. When we play our part, our youth and younger generation follow in the right footsteps.
When we say NO TO YOUTH RADICALIZATION, we say NO TO TERRORISM.