27 January 2020

The UK government has traditionally turned away from the economic reality of young people, the key driver for violent radicalisation, according to a new study.

The University of East London's School of Psychology will host a conference tomorrow (January 29) to launch the findings of one of the largest scientific studies on violent youth radicalisation in Europe.

Focused on the UK, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Portugal, Sweden and Romania, the Erasmus+ Youth Empowerment and Innovation Project (YEIP) applied a youth-led methodology involving 75 young researchers and directly engaged with 3540 people, aged between 16 and 78.

YEIP provided new evidence that by attempting to profile and predict violent youth radicalisation, we may in fact be breeding the very reasons that lead those at risk to violent acts.

This reality must be accepted and addressed positively as poverty and social exclusion have increased during the economic crisis and young people were impacted most by this decline,"

Professor Theo Gavrielides, visiting professor at UEL and founder of the IARS International Institute, which coordinated the study, said.

The project provided evidence that this resilience can be built through formal and informal education, as it can act as the vehicle for engagement even with the most vulnerable young people.

Professor Gavrielides said YEIP's research with young people and professionals showed that resilience can help young people to build positive actions, rather than violent behaviours.

"Resilience enables young people with the ability to utilise the opportunities that exist in their local communities, while it can also create new ones. Consequently, when confronted with problems, they manage them positively."

Over three years, the project trained local teams of young people who conducted fieldwork in schools, youth prisons, universities, migrant centres and online, with 18 partners involved including the Home Office and the Romanian Ministry of Education.

"Our project showed a positive way of engaging youth at risk, tapping into their talents rather than treating them as society risks," he added.

Professor Aneta Tunariu, dean of the School of Psychology at the University of East London and lead author of the Philosophical Dialogues Programme: towards sustainable prevention of youth radicalisation, said, "This project [YEIP] represents a remarkable milestone in our collective understanding and approach to tackling the psycho-social conditions that overshadow and silence life-hope and its primordial place for human flourishing, fuelling marginalisation, misunderstandings, injustice and ultimately anger and division."

The findings have been published as part of a book, which can be downloaded for free