Dr Laura Zahra McDonald from the ConnectFutures team advocates for an intersectoral approach on preventing violent extremism in a recent article for the UK Association of Colleges.

“There are fundamental safeguarding elements that must be considered but we need to acknowledge that the challenges young people and our society face are not neat, separate, unrelated strands, but interwoven, interrelated and intersecting issues. It is always useful to state the obvious, that when we talk about knife crime, or hate crime or terror attacks, we need to consider the connections.”

“First, we must respond to the immediate safeguarding needs. This includes the training in foundational knowledge for staff and students about the issues and how to recognise them. And, practical actions to stop them. Although it is not usually applied to safeguarding against violent extremism, we believe that the contextual safeguarding framework is a great place to start with this. This includes viewing safeguarding with a wide lens. To ensure knowledge is wide and deep enough to understand our localities and ensure that practical action addresses the range of issues.”

“Preventing violence and extremism works when:

Staff have had good (i.e. more than superficial) preparation to be able to discuss controversial issues

Programmes are non-prescriptive, not moralising, but lead to independent thinking

A wider range of actors are involved in the roll-out of programmes, especially or young people

A multitude of drivers of extremism and exploitation are acknowledged, and all of the intersections are considered

A practical and visible outcome is achieved. Where learners are not just recipients of ‘interventions’ but become active in work themselves.”

Read the full article and consider Dr. Laura Zahra McDonald’s ideas and questions towards building an effective preventive programme suitable for your environment.