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Conflict in the Middle East: Mitigating the impacts in Quebec schools

Description: The violence taking place during recent events in the Middle East arouses feelings of horror, fear, sadness and anger not only among families and young people in communities involved nationally or religiously, but more broadly among all Quebecers. This situation can cause or fuel interpersonal and intercommunity tensions in schools. This short document from RAPS offers ways of understanding and taking action to support young people affected by the situation and to preserve a cohesive school climate.

Extremism, Radicalisation & Mental Health: Handbook For Practitioners

Description: This handbook is not meant to be used as a risk assessment methodology, nor does it seek to offer a quantitative measure of risk and vulnerability. It also does not seek to offer a position on the medico-legal implications of mental health contributors to extremism vulnerability/risk. Its sole purpose is to aid in qualitative assessments, formulation and intervention planning and it is designed to be used as an adjunct to the appropriate, existent risk-assessment methodologies, intervention and therapeutic approaches, and mental health and counter-extremism frameworks and processes.

CoVivre Program

Description: The CoVivre program addresses the inequalities faced by marginalized groups through initiatives carried out with key players in the community, education and health and social services sectors. CoVivre acts as a facilitator and as an accelerator of initiatives aimed at reducing socio-economic and health disparities caused by the pandemic. More specifically, CoVivre aims to inform, protect and support marginalized communities during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Greater Montreal area.

Evaluation Guidebook: Landscape Of Hope

Description: The Landscape of Hope project team has released a guidebook to evaluating art-driven and resilience-based initiatives like their own, based on criteria developed by the Anti-Racism Action Program (ARAP) that prioritize the voices of Indigenous, racialized, and religious minority communities.

Toolkit for Social Workers

Description: This Toolkit for Social Workers has been developed for professionals who are working with underprivileged youngsters at risk of radicalization. The toolkit provides a brief summary of the theoretical background of radicalization and describes the main current streams of radicalist movements in Europe. The aim of the toolkit is to support social workers in the process of recognising youth who are on their way to radicalization and to present ready to use activities supporting the prevention of radicalization with a special focus on cognitive biases.

Toolkit for Teachers

Description: Here you can find a Toolkit designed for teachers working with students aged 15-18. The Toolkit comprises 11 units – an introductory unit about automatic thinking and cognitive biases and 10 units focused on ten selected biases. Each unit offers a set of activities, with printable worksheets, based on real-life examples from advertising, (social) media, political and social spheres and content developed by extremists.

Free Online Course on Cognitive Biases and Radicalization

Description: The course includes a 12 hour program that you can take at your own pace. Through a diverse mix of videos, reading materials and quizzes, you will learn about the role of automatic thinking in radicalization processes and how extremist online content can trigger cognitive biases. The course provides key information on radicalization and links it with our brain information processing, to better understand the mental processes that take place when people are confronted with extremist propaganda on social media.

PrEval: Evaluation Designs for the Prevention of Violent Extremism

Description: PrEval (“Evaluation Designs for Prevention Measures – multi-method approaches for impact assessment and quality assurance in extremism prevention and the intersections with violence prevention and civic education”) is a research project focused on Germany’s evaluation needs and capacities in preventing violent extremism. The project aims at developing evaluation designs in close collaboration with its policy partners in the German federal government.

Systematic Review (3)

3rd Systematic review: Intervention

Context & Objectives

The last two decades have witnessed increases in the number of extremist groups, hate incidents/crimes, and mass attacks that target specific racial, religious, gender minority, or political groups. These attacks have also become more globalized, affecting multiple societies around the world.

In the last decade, growing concerns about extremist violence have led governments to make important efforts and invest significant sums of money in developing programs aimed at preventing and countering violent radicalization and extremism (PVE/CVE). This has been supported by a variety of actors and organizations outside the traditional national security sphere, including the mental health, education, and community sectors. The inclusion of new approaches, strategies, and stakeholders has led to an unprecedented shift in prevention—a field which, until then, was dominated primarily by traditional security approaches and often led by intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Despite the efforts and investments, current knowledge regarding best practices in prevention remains disparate, and the effectiveness of practices being used has not yet been clearly established. This means that currently, trillions of dollars are being invested worldwide in programs whose efficacy and possible side effects are unknown.

This is especially true in the case of tertiary prevention programs, i.e., those that aim to deradicalize individuals, disengage them from extremist groups, and reintegrate them into society. In 2010, Horgan and Braddock concluded that a) no systematic effort had been made to analyze such programs or initiatives; b) there were no explicit criteria for what was considered a successful outcome; and c) despite the widely publicized success of these programs by certain governments, little data existed that could independently corroborate this success. This means that available information regarding the effectiveness of tertiary prevention programs remains to be a matter of informed opinion rather than clear empirical evidence. In addition, many studies claim to be “evaluations” despite not meeting the basic standards expected of such types of studies. This is a serious issue because the implementation of prevention programs, without adequate knowledge about their potential outcomes and impact, may ultimately be counterproductive, stigmatizing, and lead to greater harms than benefits.

To address this knowledge gap, CPN-PREV conducted a systematic review of the literature on the effectiveness of tertiary prevention programs in the field of violent radicalization. The goals of our systematic review were as follows:

  • To describe the outcomes of tertiary PVE programs in terms of reducing the risk of violent radicalization;
  • To identify specific program modalities associated with a higher chance of success or failure for the targeted populations;
  • To assess the quality of the literature in order to identify knowledge gaps and studies that should be given more (or less) weight in the interpretation of results; and
  • To formulate preliminary recommendations for program providers, policymakers, practitioners, and researchers working in the field of PVE.

The review aimed to provide a reliable, trusted, and valid knowledge base for the development of evidence-based guidelines that would speak to practitioners, researchers, and deciders from multiple sectors.

What Is Violent Radicalization?

What is Violent Radicalization?

The Power of Words

  • Words matter. The words we use to understand events in our lives, their causes, and their solutions can justify and mobilize political and social actions. We must therefore be cautious about what words we use to talk about hate, extremist
    violence, violent radicalization, or terrorism, as their misuse may cause unintended (or 
    intended) harms to individuals and communities.
  • Generally, what or who is defined as violently radical changes across social, political or historical contexts. Also, historically, groups using supremacist and racist ideologies, as well as state-supported forms of violent extremism, have been responsible for large-scale atrocities—such as genocide or those resulting from slavery and colonization—as well as hate incidents and crimes.

At CPN-PREV, we consider violent radicalization to be a non-linear process by which individuals, groups or governments undergo systemic transformations (e.g., behavioral, socioeconomic, psychological, identity-based, political, and/or ideological) that lead them to support, facilitate, or use violence towards an individual or a group in order to further their cause and bring political, social, or economic changes to society.

  • More recently, when the term violent radicalization was used and defined, it was heavily infused with ideological and political bias and mainly targeted Muslim communities. This resulted in over-surveillance, repression, unjustified policing measures, and ostracization of Muslim individuals across the world. We need to remember that all religions—including Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism—have been used to inspire different forms of extremism.
  • Because of potential biases and double standards in the field that reinforce systemic discrimination towards some historically marginalized groups, it is necessary to constantly examine the words and definitions we choose and the ways we use them. To capture this complexity, CPN-PREV took on the challenge of offering the following nuanced definition, which we acknowledge must be constantly re-examined as the knowledge base evolves.
  • At CPN-PREV, we consider violent radicalization to be a non-linear process by which an individual, a group, or a government undergoes systemic transformations (e.g., behavioral, socioeconomic, psychological, identity-based, political, and/or ideological) that lead them to support, facilitate, or use violence towards an individual or a group in order to further their cause and bring political, social, or economic changes to society.

We also stress the fact that historical or contemporary movements of Resistance to Violation of Human Rights or Colonization should NOT inherently be conflated with violent radicalization.

Is Radicalization Always Violent?

It is important to understand that radicalization rarely leads to violence and that in fact, very few people in the process of radicalization will value or resort to violence. Indeed, radicalization is often motivated by a refusal of the status quo, a desire to change society for the better. In this respect, radical movements have often, throughout history, brought about beneficial changes in society. We can think of feminism or ecological movements. Also, we can evoke people who, by their thoughts or their gestures, have radically changed society or our way of being in the world.

We also stress that historical and contemporary movements of resistance to colonization should NOT inherently be conflated with violent radicalization.

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