“Community Guide to Online Youth Radicalization” outlines a whole-of-community approach to prevention
MONTGOMERY, Ala. and WASHINGTON (November 16, 2022) — At a moment in America when extremism is threatening grassroots democracy, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL) at American University today released a new resource to help communities confront and build resilience against the mainstreaming of hate.
The guide – Building Networks & Addressing Harm: A Community Guide to Online Youth Radicalization – recognizes the crucial role trusted adults play as the first line of defense against radicalization. It intends to equip them with tools to effectively support and protect young people targeted by hateful actions and rhetoric.
“The best way to prevent radicalization is to address its root causes,” said Susan Corke, director of the Intelligence Project at SPLC. “Doing this requires a whole-of-community approach, moving beyond parents and caregivers to provide all trusted adults with tools to intervene in their homes, schools and neighborhoods.”
“Each trusted adult in a young person’s network of care has a unique vantage point into their lives,” said Dr. Pasha Dashtgard, director of research at PERIL. “That network of trusted adults – whether they’re coaches, religious leaders, tutors or others – has an opportunity to help young people build resilience against the manipulation of extremist groups.”
This new resource provides guidance to help young people resist the supremacist narratives and manipulative rhetoric they encounter online and offline, including:
- Insight into the drivers of young people’s susceptibility to extremist radicalization, such as feelings of isolation, dislocation and coping with traumatic experiences.
- Information about some of the common ways young people become radicalized, including echo chambers, content “rabbit holes,” and unmoderated and under moderated online environments.
- Tools to recognize the warning signs of youth radicalization, such as sharing concepts associated with scientific racism or a belief in male supremacy.
The guide builds on existing resources developed by the SPLC and PERIL, including The Parents & Caregivers Guide to Online Youth Radicalization and supplements for educators, counselors, and coaches. A 2021 assessment of the Parents & Caregivers Guide shows that after just seven minutes of reading the guide, parents improved their knowledge and understanding of youth radicalization, with over 80% feeling “definitely” or “probably” prepared to talk with young people about online extremism and to intervene appropriately.
A full suite of online resources is available here in English, Spanish, German and Portuguese.