Prevention of violent extremism must be a multidimensional effort. The PEER group focuses public attention on the potential of education in countering the dangerous trend in the development of violent extremism among youth and its use as an effective tool to counter extremism.
Unlike some countries, Canada’s counter radicalism policy does not mention education as a preventive measure but attempts to prevent radical and extremist acts through very expensive intelligence and police surveillance. We suggest a systematic, cost-effective and proactive educational strategy as an additional preventive measure that will attack the root issue.
While the literature on violent extremism and radicalization is growing there is no North American literature connecting educational efforts to preventing violent forms of extremism despite reports of increasing youth involvement. This group intends to develop theoretical knowledge and empirical data on education’s role in the prevention and development of violent extremism among youth that will have global applications.
North American teachers tend to avoid controversial topics in schools because they are inadequately trained to deal with them. Our plan to develop an educational resource kit for teachers will jump-start the incorporation of this issue for pre-service and in-service teachers, school administrators, policymakers and Ministry officials.
In partnership with local teachers in major Canadian cities, we will also develop a website and hands-on tools to help educators deal with controversial issues regarding violent extremism. The tools will be shared online and in a workshop co-hosted by teachers in four Canadian cities. Interested teachers and school administrators will be invited to join us in academic and non-academic publications and conference presentations at the end of the study as well.