Here’s Why Young People Are Particularly Vulnerable To Radicalization

By Nikita Malik

On Tuesday, a 17-year old boy was convicted of planning a terrorist attack in the United Kingdom. Police found documents containing a plan to commit arson against synagogues, as well as far-right literature, in his bedroom. He was sentenced to six years and eight months in custody.

Over the years, I have studied why young people voluntarily join terrorist organisations, or become committed to a violent extremist ideology. These cases are very different from youth who are abducted in areas of conflict, in refugee camps or other areas. It is clear that a greater sense of agency and intent, as well forethought and research, goes into decisions made by teenagers who choose to commit crimes such as joining or assisting a terrorist group. Similar to gangs, it is children themselves who operate in groups and encourage each other, often providing material support and logistical planning among themselves.


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