Ideology alone does not push kids to terrorism, says UN
Challenging conventional wisdom that “violent extremism” or ideology is predominantly responsible for driving children into terrorist groups, a new UN-based report shows that community and identity also play a key role.
In the report, titled Cradled by Conflict: Child Involvement with Armed Groups in Contemporary Conflict, the researchers suggest that most children do not so much “opt” into conflict as “grow” into it.
“Evidence from the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, Mali and Nigeria suggests that even in cases where ideology plays a role in a child’s trajectory towards an armed group, it is usually one of a number of motivating or facilitating factors,” Siobhan O’Neil, from the United Nations University (UNU), a UN think tank, said in a statement on Monday.
Ideology is often intertwined with other important factors like community and identity, O’Neil suggested.
“Armed groups like Boko Haram have intertwined their ideologies with a rejection of the State to recruit those who have experienced state oppression and violence into their ranks,” O’Neil said. The report also pointed to other factors present in conflict areas, such as physical safety and food security, family and peer networks, financial incentives, coercion, and the allure of armed groups, which provide a ready-made community.
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