Gaps in trainings – how PREPARE addresses the needs of practitioners working with children from violent extremist families

Frontline practitioners such as social workers, psychologists and educators are increasingly engaging with children from violent extremist families. The PREPARE project identified a lack of comprehensive and open-access knowledge to support practitioners who work with and support children from families with links to violent extremism and seek to raise awareness about the various unique characteristics and experiences of their life.    

Responding to these needs, the PREPARE team has created an all-encompassing training to complement the work of frontline practitioners working closely with children from families with links to violent extremist organisations in an informed, prepared, and collaborative way. This training material has been developed and guided by the outputs of the PREPARE Project. These include: 

  1. A systematic literature review undertaken by University of Leiden and The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT). 
  1. A guide of human rights and rule of law-compliant best practices developed by ICCT.  
  1. Primary research undertaken University of Leiden and ICCT with practitioners working in the field of violent extremism and supporting affected children as well as family members of individuals involved in violent extremism. 
  1. An online survey and in-depth interviews with practitioners conducted by Trilateral Research to acquire end user training requirements. 

An examination of existing trainings identified gaps which our PREPARE Train-the-Trainer training aims to resolve. For example, several existing trainings focus on informing practitioners and/or children themselves about violent extremist ideologies and signs of radicalisation. In contrast, the PREPARE training take a holistic approach, placing the specific experiences, needs and vulnerabilities of children from violent extremist families at the core of the training. The training steers away from placing the radicalisation at the centre (although acknowledging that children may have adopted extremist ideologies, however this is not made a focal point) but rather focuses on how to support children’s healthy development and prioritise their wellbeing.  In addition, many of the existing trainings are tailored towards practitioners/children directly, whereas the PREPARE training modules adopt a Train-the-Trainer approach (a framework/approach for trainers or subject matter experts which enables them with the ability to train other individuals within their organisations). As the training is aimed at a wide range of stakeholders who engage with children from violent extremist families, trainers will be able to adapt the content of their trainings specifically to the needs of the practitioners they are training. 

Our training takes a collaborative approach by encouraging practitioners to reflect on their own experiences, suggest and share best practices, while considering potential challenges and pitfalls. From this training, participants will be able to better understand the experiences, vulnerabilities, needs, challenges and environment of a child whose life has been impacted by familial links to violent extremist networks. Among others, participants will be able to:

  • Gain a better understanding of the significant impact that bias and stigma can have on their ability to support these vulnerable children
  • Develop a general awareness of child human rights and the importance of maintaining and upholding these rights in their daily work
  • Understand the significance of examining the a child’s entire environment by adopting Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory
  • Be aware of key skills and positive characteristics that practitioners should have when supporting children in this field such as how to cooperate with other relevant agencies, how to engage proactively with families and be cognisant of the various characteristics, considerations and needs when working with children from families with links to violent extremism.

Stay tuned for more information on the PREPARE Train-the-Trainer programme!

Author: Agnel Shiji (Trilateral Research)