Recommendation 1

Prioritize strengthening family-based social networks – and particularly parental influence – to build resilience to violent extremism (VE).

Family, as a conduit of culture and belief, can play a central role in shaping attitudes toward non-violence. Social networks and peer groups in general play a profound role in facilitating, or undermining, processes of radicalization to violence. Positive social networks are important in reinforcing non-violent norms and resilience to VE. Some research has found family to be more important than other kinds of social networks in shaping individual perspectives on nonviolence. Parental influence appears to be particularly important. Where parents have less impact on their children’s decision-making, they are less able to guard against radicalization to violence. In many contexts, “parent-son” relationships represent a particularly important gap. Where programming can strengthen family influence on youth, and increase links between individuals and the broader community, this may reduce the appeal of VE.