Preventing violent extremism among youth may be as simple as encouraging participation in sports

Researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and the University of Quebec-Montreal (UQAM) suggest that playing sports can help prevent teenagers and children from radicalizing themselves into violent extremism. I discovered that it might be as easy as

Recently the study A study conducted by a university in the Southeastern Punjab region of Pakistan showed that sport builds resilience to youth engagement. violent extremism, This is represented by acts of violence to promote an ideology, whether for religious, social, or political causes. Violent extremist groups have also been found to target orphaned children with the promise of a better life and a sense of community.

Youth radicalization is a serious problem in Pakistan. There are repeated reports of extremist groups targeting, manipulating and recruiting young people in Pakistan. South Punjab is more vulnerable to youth radicalization due to lack of economic and educational opportunities, researchers argue.

Researchers believe that sport promotes community strength by teaching children positive values ​​such as respect for others, teamwork, resilience, conflict resolution, fair play, and problem solving. I found They also teach children honesty, respect, responsibility, trust and create a sense of belonging.

Additionally, the study showed that sports can help maintain physical, mental and mental health, and help children reduce anxiety and stress levels. , showed that sports reduced mental health symptoms in trauma-exposed children.

prevent youth radicalization

Far-right extremist groups are on the rise in Western countries such as Australia and the United States Targeting and radicalizing young people online.

More recently, Australia’s Herald Sun report On August 18, Australian Home Secretary Claire O’Neill was scheduled to speak at a youth summit of the Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Commission that had recently seen a case being used by a group of teenage supporters of the Islamic State. A grooming technique that radicalizes minors on school playgrounds.

“It focuses on the most vulnerable children on the playground. Lone children, victims of bullying, and children who struggle to adapt initially deployed old tactics of flattery and friendship.” It quickly turned into manipulation and coercion as they tried to desensitize their victims by displaying increasingly graphic and violent Islamic State propaganda, and eventually they were sharing a beheading video. ”

In an email to The Epoch Times, Umair Asif, one of the UQAM researchers involved in the study, said sports programs help foster bonds and social ties among young people, thus keeping young people away from radicalization. said to be an ideal way to help

“These ties help keep young people from engaging in negative activities and may prevent radicalization. It also helps diverse people understand each other and foster harmony.” ‘ said Asif. “Similarly, positive values ​​in sport, such as sportsmanship, help young people incorporate positive values ​​into their daily lives.”

Sports also help radicalized individuals to reintegrate into society

The study utilized two nonprofit organizations and two community-based social programs.Swat Youth Front, Kafka Welfare Organization, Parvaz e Aman Program (PeA) and Youth Adolescent Development — Promote peace for war survivors with a focus on football, volleyball and cricket.

Researchers found that young people who participated in the program felt lonely and neglected before joining the program, but now felt their lives had purpose and were important. Many also said that being respected by their teammates made them feel more equal.

The study also showed that sport can help reintegrate individuals who have been radicalized, excluded or forcibly displaced.

“Social isolation can lead young people to become radicalized or involved in criminal activities. This sport also helps break social isolation through friendship and bonding,” Asif said. .

He noted that the concept has also been successful in reintegrating child soldiers in Africa, as well as North Korean children who have reconciled with South Korea.

He said that social ties can help prevent online recruitment, so sports recovery programs not only reintegrate children coming out of youth detention into their communities, but also eliminate adult offenders. He said it can also be used to reintegrate into society.

“So it has a broader context,” Asif said.

Australian government response to violent extremism

In an email to The Epoch Times, a Home Office spokesperson said sports partnerships are one of the ways the Australian government is using to promote resilience and social cohesion within communities. .

Governments are fighting violent extremism through a variety of initiatives. These efforts include building resilience within communities, rehabilitating and reintegrating violent extremists, launching online initiatives, and supporting the diversion of individuals at risk of radicalization. .

“Intervention programs are a key activity for liberating individuals who are at risk of radicalizing and falling into violent extremism,” they said. “The Living Safe Together Intervention Program is a framework designed to address all forms of violent extremism, including religious and ideologically motivated violent extremism.”

“Programs offered by states and territories under this framework are being implemented across the country to refer, assess and support those at risk of radicalization to violent extremism.”

A spokesperson said the Australian government is also working with state and territory agencies to combat violent extremism.

“Close partnerships between federal, state and territory governments are central to Australia’s national approach to combating terrorism and violent extremism (CVE),” said a spokeswoman.

“The Australian Government is committed to protecting Australians from all forms of violent extremism.”

Youth radicalization is a focus of the Australian government

A spokesperson for the ministry also said the Australian government is focused on tackling significant new threats to communities, particularly the radicalization of young people online and violence perpetrated by nationalists and racists. Threats such as the rise of social extremism.

Governments are taking multiple actions to confront these threats. These actions include the establishment of CVE Centers of Excellence for research, risk assessment, and training, and a nationwide rehabilitation and reintegration program for violent extremists in custody and communities.

The spokesperson said the CVE Center, located within the Department of the Interior, will drive national research to ensure frontline workers have access to the best training and tools to get the job done.

Other measures include expanding the Living Safe Together Intervention Program to rural and regional Australia, continuing efforts to combat online terrorist propaganda, and offering a new CVE Grants Program.

A spokesperson said the government is offering a subsidy program to “raise awareness of violent extremism and build community resilience.”