Enhancing the resilience of vulnerable children exposed to violent extremist environments

PREPARE (Promoting collaborative policies of inclusion relating to children of far right and Islamist parents in Western Europe) is a new EU-funded project that started in January 2022. Funded by the European Commission, PREPARE is a response to the ISFP-2020-AG-RAD call, whose objective is to develop effective responses and tools to prevent and counter all forms of violent extremism (with particular focus on Islamist and violent right wing extremism). The project is 18 months in length (January 2022 – June 2023) with a total budget of approximately €800,000.

Our project has a bold aim: to identify the vulnerabilities and stigmas children may face when their parents are part of violent extremist networks and how those can best be addressed by relevant front-line actors in an informed, prepared, and collaborative way that centers on the needs of the child. PREPARE is guided by a human-rights, rule-of-law and gender informed approach.

There is a generation of children that have faced unique and significant challenges, and in some cases unspeakable horrors, through their parents’ association with, and roles in, terrorist groups. I’m proud to work with this research team to support these children, and the professionals working with them.” says Dr Joana Cook of Leiden University, lead investigator of PREPARE.

PREPARE will help make contemporary knowledge, training, and tools accessible to directly inform state-led interventions with children of violent extremists. The outputs include the development of a new, unique Child Vulnerability and Intervention Tool; train-the-trainer activities; targeted workshops focused on identifying and supporting the vulnerabilities of children in these environments; and knowledge dissemination.

PREPARE’s short, medium and long-term beneficiaries include front line practitioners (including those in police forces, social services, child protection agencies, health and education), families of violent extremist actors, policymakers, researchers, and their local communities across Europe. It ultimately supports stakeholder collaboration and preparedness in this work.

Meet the team

The project is led by five EU partners: Leiden University’s Institute of Security and Global Affairs (ISGA), The Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), Trilateral Research (TRI), The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT), and the Security Department, Basque government (Gobierno Vasco – Departmento Seguridad). It focuses on six EU Member States facing pronounced challenges from Islamist and far right extremists: Netherlands, Spain, France, Sweden, Germany & Kosovo. It will be of interest and relevance to other EU member states facing similar challenges.

Contact and further information

Coordinator: Dr. Joana Cook, Leiden University (NL)

Authors: Leiden University & Trilateral Research