#PJstories – Interview with Viktorija Kovala

Viktorija participated in the Training Course “Radicalization Stop” organized by PROJUVEN in Torremolinos, Spain

Hello ViktorijaAccording to your opinion, what drives youth radicalisation?

Usually radicalization takes place among the vulnerable part of the youth. These people feel lost, lonely or treated unfair. In my opinion, this feeling appears by youth mostly because of mix of economic and social problems. If they do not feel supported from government (high unemployment rate, low wages, no support in form of scholarships and subventions), it can increase the possibility for them being radicalized. Social exclusion has also a huge impact on individual especially in the young age. It gives radical organisations a tool to manipulate youth by giving them the opportunity to belong to the group. Lack of education drives youth radicalization as well, as young people without proper knowledge do not see things critical.

What can we do to protect young people from extremist influences in the online environment? What are your tips for staying safe online?  

In my opinion to take some inappropriate/radical posts offline could help to stay safe online, but unfortunately can restrict the freedom of speech, which is a fundamental feature in democratic state. That is why I think it is very important properly to inform youth through the social media of common signs and consequences of being radicalized. Social media platforms should control that none of their commercial ads content any extremist information. Parents and schools should inform youth, how to react, if they were contacted online by radical organizations.

What is the most important thing you have learned during the training? How do you plan to share and use your knowledge?

During this project I have learned a lot of new things, but I guess the most important one was to find out, how I can recognize that the person starts to have radical thoughts and what should I do to prevent it. For me it was very interesting to discover new types of extremist (like environmental one), as normally only Islamic extremism is highlighted in the media.

As I am convinced that it is very important to inform youth about this kind of topics, I will use any opportunity to share relevant information, which I gained during this training course, with my surrounding (friends, family, colleagues) as well as in university (presentation, discussion circle).

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