Preventing Radicalization Leading to Violence in Schools

What is radicalization?

The term radicalization generally refers to a shift away from a moderate point of view toward the adoption of extreme or intransigent points of view that advocate rejection of the status quo, although not necessarily in a violent manner.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that holding radical opinions is not the same as engaging in radical behaviour or violence. Moreover, the type of radicalization that leads to violence cannot necessarily be detected through observation as the behaviours that characterize it are also often associated with forms of protest or attention-seeking.

Violent radicalization is the result of a process in which the normal practices of dialogue and compromise are gradually abandoned in favour of increased involvement in the tactics of confrontation and conflict. The action plan (in French only) and the entire range of measures instituted by the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur (MEES) should therefore be understood as concerned exclusively with radicalization that leads to violence.

Québec-UNESCO Conference

The Québec-UNESCO Conference, Internet and the Radicalization of Youth: Preventing, Acting and Living Together Cet hyperlien s'ouvrira dans une nouvelle fenêtre., which took place from October 30 to November 1, 2016, brought together close to 400 participants (researchers, experts, civil society representatives and government officials) to identify innovative and collaborative ways not only of preventing, but also of putting a permanent end to, youth radicalization leading to violence.

Québec’s Call for Action Cet hyperlien s'ouvrira dans une nouvelle fenêtre., a landmark document born out of deliberations among the participants, urges citizens and the international community to take action to fight and prevent radicalization.

What resources are available to me?

  • Training
    Training for school administrators and staff is offered by MEES in collaboration with the SHERPA research centre of the University Institute with Regard to Cultural Communities, affiliated with the CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal. For further information, please contact the Direction des services d’accueil et d’éducation interculturelle
  • Information sheet
    A sheet summarizing all the information required by education professionals, and providing advice on attitudes and initiatives conducive to a positive school atmosphere
  • List of references
    Documentation and organizations you may find helpful in your professional capacity (right)

What can I do as an education professional?

  • Become informed and share information
    • Familiarize yourself with the school’s anti-bullying and anti-violence plan.
    • Familiarize yourself with the intervention strategy recommended by the school if a student is deemed to be in danger of becoming radicalized.
    • Inform students and their families about the school’s intervention strategy, anti-violence and anti-bullying plan and code of conduct.
    • Ensure that all school staff and students’ families have a common understanding of one another’s roles and responsibilities in fostering inclusion and acceptance of social diversity, as well as in establishing a positive school atmosphere.
  • Adopt the following attitudes
    • Support the school’s essential role as a unifying and protective force in the lives of students, their families and the community.
    • Recognize the role and influence of adults in the school system in fostering inclusion and acceptance of diversity, and in preventing radicalization leading to violence.
    • Familiarize yourself with the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and review it with colleagues to ensure that interventions do not involve discrimination or profiling, and do not in any way compromise the exercise of the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Charter.
    • Seize every opportunity to incorporate an intercultural perspective into course content.
  • Suggest or implement initiatives conducive to a positive school atmosphere
    • Organize intercultural awareness activities with the students. For example, introduce projects that encourage intercultural contact and community involvement on the part of all.
    • Foster initiatives that reflect and promote the diversity of the students’ cultural heritage. For example, highlight the contributions of various communities to the development of Québec society.
    • Make the inclusion of families a priority, offering a variety of ways to collaborate with the school. For example, invite families to participate in artistic initiatives.
    • Promote initiatives that enable young people to develop a sense of belonging to their school and to society in general.  For example, provide spaces in which young people are encouraged to engage in friendly and respectful discussion on issues of importance to them.
    • Train students to critically analyze the media, particularly social media. For example, help students learn to identify factors that contribute to indoctrination.
    • Discuss with other educators the situation of young people who appear to be at risk. Never act alone on the basis of suspicions, as these may prove unfounded. For example, in order to avoid profiling, set up a space where educators can discuss their observations, ensuring that such discussions are held at an appropriate time and place.

Organizations