By Christianne Boudreau (@ChristianneBoud)
In our world today, parents have yet another concern to educate themselves about as well as learn how to approach the topic with our children and educate them. This new phenomenon of radicalization, or path to violent extremism, is actually not that new. It has been around for years in many different forms including cults, gangs and right-wing extremism. The downfall is it is not something that has been at the forefront of the mainstream population until now. That also means that it is something that most communities haven’t put on their list to tackle.
Government officials and authorities are still struggling as to the best approach in this area as are various academics and so-called “experts.” There are no real clear cut policies that work in a way to help families either. That being said, families and close loved ones are the best people to tackle this problem.
After having gone through the experience myself, I spent many long hours researching and connecting with others. Parents can gain the tools and support they need to help them educate their children as a preventative method, or support with intervention if needed. You just need to know where to look. Most of all, it takes courage to reach out to complete strangers and share such personal information, but there are people out there who care, and who really do want to help. These are our children so fear can’t get in our way of getting them what they need.
Parents second-guess themselves all too often. Having a third-party to connect with from the outside looking in without the emotional connections is always the best option. Many organizations offer the opportunity to go through a risk assessment to give you a better idea of where things stand. Is your loved one on a path to violent extremism? What are the signs? How can you intervene and possibly redirect them? These are all questions that various organizations can help you answer so you’re not left alone struggling to understand all this new information and determine if it applies to you and your family.
I highly recommend you start with prevention. Using resources like www.extremedialoge.org is a strong way to connect with you and open up the conversation. There are short videos and resources available on the website all for free.
If you require assistance, reach out to one of the various organizations out there to assist you. Hayat Canada Family Support (www.hayatcanada.com), Mothers for Life and GIRDS (www.girds.org), or Families for Life (www.familiesforlife.uk.org). All these organizations offer trained caseworkers and family support counsellors that can help you even if it’s just trying to understand these issues for your own well-being. There is never any judgment. If it is an emergency, and there is no other alternative as the situation could result in immediate physical harm, the authorities should be contacted.
Parents aren’t in this alone. The world out there is changing so fast, and it’s really difficult to monitor absolutely everything our children hear and see. There’s a good reason why the old saying was that it takes a village to raise a child. Our communities aren’t what they used to be so we often find ourselves taking on the full burden even though in reality, everything our children see and hear impact them. Even if it is an action by someone going by on the street and how they treat someone else, that can have a lasting impact on internal emotions and motivations that affect their decisions growing up.
Christianne Boudreau is a dedicated mother and activist striving to educate and support parents and families whose lives are affected by radicalization. She founded Hayat Canada in 2014 and currently is a Fellow at the German Institution Radicalization and De-radicalization Studies (GIRDS: http://girds.org/mothersforlife). Follow Christianne on Twitter at @ChristianneBoud to stay informed.