Introducing the Child Vulnerability and Intervention tool – Guiding practitioners’ work with children of violent extremism

Bringing innovation to the practice can take many shapes and forms. In the context of PREPARE, the team were tasked with gathering state-of-the-art insights from current literature and, based on these findings, deliver two products: a Train-the-Trainer training module, led by Trilateral Research, and a proof-of-concept tool to support practitioners, led by TNO.

What is a tool?

So let’s start at the beginning – what is a tool? A tool can define many different solutions: from a printed check-list to a sophisticated software. The pre-requirements for the PREPARE tool were its target audience (broadly defined as people in the practice, i.e., those in contact with children from families with links to violent extremism) and its goal to bring academic knowledge to practice and help solve current problems faced by practitioners working with children of Jihadist and Far-Right violent extremism.

How is PREPARE developing the Child Vulnerability and Intervention tool?

The process of designing the PREPARE tool started with the inputs from the literature review and the interviews conducted by the University of Leiden and ICCT. The results highlighted that while children growing up in violent extremist family environments seem to show similarities to children going through other types of Adverse Childhood Experiences, practitioners face challenges related to the lack of knowledge on the specificities of the background and family context of children of violent extremism. Therefore, the PREPARE team decided to create a tool that would offer specific guiding questions and information to complement the expertise of the user. The guiding questions and information are directly extracted from the literature review and integrated into the different sections of the tool.

The sections of the tool, considered as functionalities, are determined by the existing process that most practitioners share when managing the case of a child. They include: general information, a timeline (used for collecting the child’s medical history), a visualisation of the child’s social network and information about their global development.

The different functionalities and specifications of the tools are therefore determined by both desk research, including the literature review, but also in close cooperation with stakeholders and practitioners involved in the project. From previous workshops and feedback sessions, the team asked practitioners to provide feedback on the tool to make sure it relates as closely as possible to the need and challenges of the future user.

So, what is our concept?

As we enter the final phase of the PREPARE project, the design of the proof-of-concept for the tool is close to its final version. We propose a tool that will provide practitioners with an overview of a child experiencing a series of unique vulnerabilities from growing up in a violent extremist home environment. The tool aims to put together different types of information related to the child and specific knowledge about their context of growing up in a radicalised environment. The guiding questions should offer the practitioner the opportunity to expand their knowledge experience to the specificities of this target group. The answers to the guiding questions allow the tool to propose multiple risk and protective factors that the practitioner can then prioritise and use their professional judgement to select interventions.

Based on preliminary feedback gathered from the previous three workshops and interviews with practitioners, the strengths of our tools are:

  • the visualisation and information functionalities: timeline, social network and risk/protective factors.
  • the inclusion of specific knowledge to fully comprehend the situation of the child.

The final rounds of iteration will allow the PREPARE team to sharpen the concept by further testing it to make sure to achieve valuable impact in the practice and to support practitioners assure that every child can grow and experience a healthy development.

Author: Beatrice Cadet (TNO)