Youth attitudes towards radicalization: Start The Change research results After seven months of hard work (Jan – Jul 2017), the Research Team of CSC has finally finished a Primary Research involving nine schools across Palermo, whose aim is to track and identify key problems facing today’s youth in the efforts to prevent radicalization at large. The research constitutes the First Work Package of START THE CHANGE, a project co-financed by Erasmus+ Program, Key Action 3: Support for Policy Reform.

The research fulfilled the first step of the project’s large-scale coordinated actions that foresee the participation of 40 schools, 110 teachers, and 2000 youngsters across 4 European countries during its 2-year lifetime. All local schools were invited to participate on an indiscriminating basis, regardless of their systematic level, technical specialization, geographic location and so on, in a way diverse opinions and experiences could be voiced and collected. In total, 115 youngsters from 10-17 years of age participated in the activity, exceeding the designated number of the project application, which demonstrates youth’s high interest in the topic of study and their awareness of the pressing need to mitigate the tendency to radicalize among young adolescents.

The specific aim of the research is to trace the Roots of Radicalization inherent in the everyday environment youth lives in, such as at school, in the neighbourhood, and in family. There are five main areas of exploration:

  • YOUTH’S INTERESTS – to gain insight into youth’s interests and to identify existing resources that could fulfil those interests (or not);
  • KEY PROBLEMS – to identify key problems of children and young people in school and local community, as well as to assess the feeling of security in school and local community;
  • POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS – to discuss possible solutions from an insider‘s point of view;
  • VOLUNTEERING – to discuss meanings of volunteering, identify and promote volunteering opportunities;
  • EMPOWERING SOLUTIONS AND IDEAS – through concrete actions.

Employing a bottom-up, grassroots-based approach, the research team conducted Focus Groups with 8-10 students in each school over 2 hours in order to listen to their thoughts and go deep as a group into the issues.

Among the most recurring results, bullying – physical or psychological – was found to be the one alarmingly common in many schools, not only stirring a sense of frustration and injustice among youngsters, but also leaving a long-lasting scar on its victims. Overall, the research findings confirmed the utmost need to develop a sense of empathy and open-mindedness towards diversity, and a positive attitude to change and change-making among adolescents who are, however energetic and optimistic, often very sensitive and vulnerable.

START THE CHANGE aims to fight the radicalization among young people, a process that has to start as soon as in the primary and secondary schools. In order to deal with this issue, START THE CHANGE will organize a large-scale coordinated action that foresees the participation of 40 schools, 110 teachers, and 2000 youngsters across 4 European countries.

The project partnership consists of four organizations around Europe:

  • Forum for Freedom in Education (FFE – the Coordinator, from Croatia);
  • Development Education Association, United Kingdom (United Kingdom);
  • Youth Centre Dravinje (Slovenia);
  • CSC Danilo Dolci (Italy).

Take a look  at the project website: startthechange.net.

For further information please contact Trang Dang at trang.dang@danilodolci.org.