The Radicalization & Alienation of Youth

The radicalization & alienation of youth

The radicalization & alienation of youth

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal eight causes of the alienation of youth and its connection to the terrorist bombings in Boston.

First a quick update:

“Stress and its impact on women’s menstruation”
Read the interview between myself and Dr. Michael Bauerschmidt, Medical Director of Full Potential Health Care here.

Now, let’s talk about the eight causes of the alienation of youth and its connection to the terrorist bombings in Boston.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev age 19 is a naturalized American citizen of Chechen origin. He has been charged with the twin bombings that killed 3 people and injured more than 170 during the Boston marathon.

Dzhokhar was enrolled as a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and his classmates describe him as “normal”, “really nice”, “very charismatic” and someone who made “friends easily.”

Those close to him believe it was his older brother Tamerlan, who brainwashed Dzhokhar into committing the act of terrorism.

There has been conflicting opinions about whether or not Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should be perceived as a teenage child led astray or as an adult; the legal age for purchasing alcohol and for voting in the US is 21, but the legal age to join the army is 18.

Of course, domestic terrorism is not new. In the 1990s, in the US, there were dozens of bombings and arson of abortion clinics. Also adults have been persuaded to commit acts of murder and suicide by various cult leaders. Joseph Kibweteere was the leader of a suicidal cult that splintered from the Roman Catholic Church in Uganda. In March 17, 2000, in a mass murder/suicide, at least 780 people died.) Click here to read more.

Reverend “Jim” Jones led the cult murder/suicide in 1978 of 909 of his church’s members in Jonestown, Guyana where more than 200 children were murdered – most of them by cyanide poisoning.

Nonetheless, as evidenced by the bombings in Boston and numerous acts of terrorism and violence around the world, along with young people who are being ‘groomed’ to carry out ‘terrorist’ attacks, the newest threat in the 21st century is the alienation and radicalization of youth.

Alienation is “a condition in social relationships reflected by a low degree of integration or common values and a high degree of distance or isolation between individuals, or between an individual and a group of people in a community or work environment.”

I cannot claim to offer all of the reasons youth and someone such as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev would be swayed, persuaded or led to commit acts of terrorism. However, I would like to offer some insights into the causes of youth alienation.

I would like to begin with Charles Manson.

Charles Manson is a cult leader who led the Manson Family, a quasi-commune in California in the late 1960s. He was found guilty of conspiracy to commit the murders of Sharon Tate and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, which were carried out by members of his group at his instruction.

In prison, Manson still receives a large amount of mail, most of it from young people who want to join the Manson Family; there is also a Facebook page to join the Family.

Many of Manson’s original followers and Family were impressionable young girls from disturbed backgrounds; they were from affluent, middle and upper class families but they themselves were lost, confused, lacked direction and were seeking significance and purpose. Manson gave them significance and a purpose (albeit a twisted one) – to precipitate “Helter Skelter”, the impending apocalyptic race war.

Manson met many of the key needs of these young followers: significance, identity, challenge, a sense of belonging, meaning and purpose. (Read my article “Getting your six human emotional needs”).

These are some of the same methods being used to recruit and radicalize youth on an individual basis as well as on a grand scale. It is the alienation of youth that creates the opportunity to radicalize them.

Here are eight causes of youth alienation today:

1. Absent fathers
Lack of validation, guidance, discipline, leadership or a positive role model results in hostility, low self-esteem, poor self-image, negativity, and less ambition Read my article about the new study conducted over 50 years that reveals that rejection by father can be even more devastating than by mother, negatively impacting the development of happy, well-adjusted children and into adulthood.

2. Breakdown In families
Severe dysfunction within families is one of the greatest causes of youth alienation. A lack of a sound, stable and secure family and support system creates vulnerable youth, who are already impressionable and seeking identity and purpose. A breakdown in families (divorce, abuse, isolation, loneliness, abandonment, lack of attention et al) results in a lack of a voice or an outlet for emotions such as fear, anger and hatred, which, in turn, can stimulate actions leading to violence.

In February 2007, UNICEF conducted a report to measure children and adolescent’s well-being in 21 industrialized countries. It used 40 indicators such as relative poverty, health, family & peer relationships and behaviors & risks. The US and Britain scored at the bottom of the report.

3. Idealogical fragmentation
The world is becoming global due to the internet and technology, but it is the same technology that allows for people to locally become diverse and fragmented. “In many situations this brings with it community tensions, division and segregation. For many young people within such environments there develops for them a ‘contradictory consciousness’ which often results in conflict and violence against the perceived ‘other’ in ‘defense’ of community, identity, culture and/or way of life.”  – Dr. Dr. Alan Grattan, Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Arts and Social Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, Hampshire, UK – author of “The Alienation and Radicalisation of Youth: A ‘New Moral Panic’?”

4. Social isolation
Technology and social media allow for digital exchanges of information but not real emotional or physical connection, meaningful friendship and bonds or understanding and support. Children spend nearly 55 hours a week watching TV, texting, playing video games and using computers. This allows little time for social interaction and results in social isolation.

5. Absence of respect for authority
This is driven by lack of involvement by parents, lack of discipline and boundaries by parents, the absence of fathers and the media which promotes and glamorizes extreme individuation, reckless abandon, and constant hedonism without any meaning or purpose.

6. Few positive role models for youth
Most role models offered by the media are hedonistic, narcissistic celebrities who achieve an empty form of significance and identity via fame, attention and power.

7. Peer guidance and lack of social skills
Children spend more time with their peers than with adults and the result is a lack of basic social skills and a lack of guidance, wisdom, meaning and purpose. MTV and Nickelodeon deliberately created a policy that peers would determine much of the programming and direction. Nickelodeon specifically promoted its development and programming policy as “by children for children.” In both above cases, the result is also a lack of respect for authority as evidenced by many of the TV shows on MTV and the constant promotion of hooliganism.

“Because they don’t have that structured interaction with adults, it damages their life chances. They are not learning how to behave, how to get on in life, as they need to.” Nick Pearce, Director of The Institute for Public Policy Research in Britain. In Britain, 45% of 15-year-old boys spend most of their evenings out with friends i.e. little interaction and time with their family and parents.

8. Frustration, isolation and life crisis
This pertains specifically to Muslim youth who struggle for identity. They desire to fit in while also trying to retain their religious tradition; they are strongly tied to their current home country versus ancestral homeland but face clashing worlds of  conservative parents and a secular world outside home They ultimately choose one identity but feel alienated by both Muslim and Non-Muslim communities. They also often lack positive role models and suffer from discrimination in the form of jobs, travel, visas, etc.

In conclusion, change can only occur by each person taking action in their own world – at home and with their family. What can you do to support and guide the youth in your world?

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist
www.patrickwanis.com

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