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Preventing Radicalization through Youthwork: from theory to practice. Final thoughts, feelings, impressions

Preventing Radicalization through Youthwork: from theory to practice. Final thoughts, feelings, impressions

‘Do you think that you could implement in your own setting some of the good practices that you saw during the seminar?’

Suddenly there was silence. We were playing the ‘statement game’, an interactive evaluation tool, where participants are asked to show how much they agree or disagree with a statement by positioning themselves in the one or the other side of the room. Some minutes before, the group had stated unanimously how useful it had been hearing about other people’s success stories and visiting local organizations in Tirana. So, what are the constraints making us hesitant over how to translate ideas into practice?

It has become understood that the prevention and combat of radicalization calls for a cross-sectorial approach, based on a coherent, community-oriented methodology, with full awareness of both the sensitivity and the multifacetedness of the subject. In this process, youthwork should be involved in the agenda in a regular, consistent and sustainable manner, so that it can have a concrete, tangible and long-term effect. The discussions throughout the seminar, both in the plenary and during the field visits, showed that there is still a lot to be done on how to bridge the gap between theory and practice, research/needs analysis and local action, youth policy and grassroots youthwork. Although there is an international will to tackle radicalization, what is still lacking in many countries, especially in the western Balkan region, is a concrete, comprehensive and cohesive agenda, based on a youth-oriented strategy and evidence-based methodology. Consequently, it is beyond doubt there is gain in collecting and exchanging good practices, which can allow us to have access to information and tools on what is available, what can be adopted and how we can work with each other in order to have better results.
Participants conveyed through their answers their motivation to work on reducing these gaps through their own role and on finding ways to overcome challenges. The last session of the seminar focused on addressing our own fears and constraints, developing strategies on how to communicate our work, finding partners to support our follow-up projects and learning from each other. Radicalization grows and feeds itself within group dynamics, therefore preventing it is also a matter of collective work.

By Mary Drosopulos, PhD (c )

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