Free Essay: The Determinants of Minors' Participation in Terrorist Acts

Published: 2023-03-22
Free Essay: The Determinants of Minors' Participation in Terrorist Acts
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Terrorism Social psychology Social issue
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1884 words
16 min read

For a long time, terrorist organizations have been searching for the best recruitment method that would give them soldiers that would fight their battles. Their main concern has always been having a team that cannot be recognized easily, which makes them move freely and attack their targets with no trouble. After several years of trial and error, these terrorist organizations have started using children since they know that the young age of these children helps them camouflage in any environment. They also know that it is easy to manipulate the minds of these children when they are still young. Many terrorist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), al-Shabaab, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and many other organizations recruit children (Bloom, 2019, pp. 195-196). This paper studies the factors and influences that cause children to be among the recruits of these terrorist groups. It will use four different theoretical perspectives to evaluate this topic. These themes are the structuralist, rationalist, coercion, and culturalist approaches.

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The decision to join a terrorist organization usually lies with a person. That is to say that while two people may live in similar environments if one joins a terrorist group, the second one may not necessarily become part of the organization. This factor means that this decision usually originates from the individual and not from other people. That is, while the two people may live in a similar environment. This section seeks to study factors in the setting in which a person lives and the likelihood of communicating with the community. It uses the structuralist approach to discover methods that these organizations use to encourage teenagers to join them. It will also consider the rationalist approach to find the channels and justifications that they give for their actions. Moreover, it will focus on the culture of a people and how this factor can cause extremists to succeed in their activities. Finally, it will consider the young ones that join these movements from the coercion viewpoint. Studying these issues will help nations and authorities to develop laws and measures that will prevent children from joining terrorist organizations.

The Dominant Theoretical Approaches

Structuralist Theoretical Approach

This theoretical framework states that minors get radicalized due to the structure of society. These individuals grow up witnessing violence in all their activities. By the time one becomes old, they have come to believe that the only way of solving their problems is through violence. Therefore, a child possessing this mentality can be easily radicalized without much opposition. Additionally, when researchers seek to find the reason for the early radicalization, people typically tend to ignore the effect of the environment where the child lives (Stephens et al. 2019, p. 1). Instead, they tend to study the child individually and this impacts the results of their investigation. Stephens et al. (2019, p. 2) said that it is imperative for researchers to pay attention to issues such as psychiatry, social work, education, and public health of the victims and other people in an area. These children usually have grown in environments that promote their grievances, which end up acting as push factors. They cause the children to have dissatisfaction with their environment.

This discontent acts as a push factor and causes the children to desire to repay their bad lives when they were young. For instance, a child that has lived in a violent neighborhood is more likely to desire to be ferocious in his or her later life. Therefore, to such a person, terrorists have an easy time radicalizing this child. All they need to do is to inform the child that he or she can repay for this violence by becoming violent too. Moreover, such individuals usually have grown in places where they easily meet ideologists that manipulate their thinking and political inclination. When the political discourses that children experience is about the violence that exists in their surroundings, the youngsters are highly likely to resort to violence to solve the problems that they face in the future. One way of finding the children that this form of life affects is by considering the predictors of child radicalization. This assessment should consider the environment in which a child lives and then seek to find if it affects him or her. If the setting exerts high pressure on the youngster, then it is crucial to find ways to prove to the child that the situation can change.

The complex nature of the motivating factor for the structuralist approach makes it hard to detect and prevent the occurrence of this radicalization. When a person lives in such a setting, one of the best methods of ensuring they do not end up in these extremist groups is by using dialogue and other evidence-based strategies (Aiello et al. 2018, p. 435). This method seeks to find and address the underlying factors that influence these teenagers to join the forces. It deals with cases, such as when violence becomes an integral part of people's lives. Such an environment affects a child's mental inclination and causes him or her to prefer violence in all his or her daily activities. These situations cause violence to become part of people's identity. A good example is the children living in areas under control of ISIS. These children have lived all their lives in violent settings, and therefore, they do not know any other type of life. Moreover, if a child realizes that their home has violence, and seeks to change this situation, the terrorists inform the child that the best way of achieving this goal is by becoming a terrorist. Then they tell him or her of the need to revenge the people that caused them misery.

Another significant factor that terrorists use when recruiting children is by informing them that they are in a war against some foreigners or particular people. For instance, children living in a community may get their minds poisoned by their seniors. The recruiters create a perspective of 'us versus them'. This process does not have much success in making children become terrorists. They are told that the only way that they can avoid and prevent more violence is by becoming a terrorist and defend themselves. Being still young, a child does not know the truth and cannot argue with his or her seniors. Consequently, he or she joins the terrorist group, where they learn who needs to live and those that need to die. That is, the recruiters train the children to the level where they receive all the training that they need and then become one of them. In many cases, the people that informs the children of the need to become terrorists are an individual that the youngsters fear and respect. For instance, it can be a political leader or a relative that the child respects and fears. Thus, when they receive the call from this person, they follow it to the end.

Another strategy that these recruiters use in their work is providing positive encouragement and reward for a child that joins them. Specifically, they give them incentives to influence their decisions. These encouragements could be social, economic, or political. They inform the children that if they become terrorists and when they participate in terrorist activities, they will be highly respected. Moreover, they promise the children that they will get financial incentives, which influences them to join the terrorist organization. Finally, since most of the people in such areas are normally terrorists, the children consider joining them as an improvement in their state of life. That is, they play with the emotional aspect of the minds of the children by informing them that they will be like the leaders of these organizations. The factors discussed here cause the children to have no opposition to the idea of joining terrorist organizations.

As stated earlier, not all people are susceptible to radicalization. Some people are more likely to get radicalized than others. This perspective tries to explain the factors that facilitate this difference in the chances of joining these groups. Firstly, this theory focuses on the structural issues that exist in communities that cause youths to join these movements. It is crucial to mention that most children that join extremist movements may possess these qualities; not all people having them are terrorists. These factors include some social, economic, cultural, and political settings in the areas where a person lives (Schuurman et al. 2018, p. 98). When a child lives in an environment that possesses a culture of violence, then the individual is highly likely to be violent in his or her dealings. Moreover, if the child's community sympathizes with extremist movements, then the child will have these qualities. Such structural settings increase the chances of an individual joining a terrorist organization. Moreover, the economic state of a family will influence their chances of joining these movements. For instance, if a child lives in utter poverty, he or she becomes vulnerable to joining these organizations if approached (Pearell, 2018, p. 26). The issues named above will act as push factors, causing the child to join the extremist movement.

Other issues may also act as pull factors, attracting a child to join the movements. These pull factors include having a better life while living as a terrorist. These organizations usually inform their potential followers and sympathizers that they stand to benefit if they join the groups. For instance, in some communities, the recruits would be given weapons such as high-performance guns. Such factors are likely to attract the attention of the child. In this case, the desire to possess a weapon, such as a gun, could be too hard for the child to resist, and these issues increase the chances of falling prey to the organizations. Some other individuals have lived in violence for long, and therefore, they see this as an opportunity to join a movement that will appreciate their violent nature (Venhaus, 2010, p. 1). The children of such a person are highly likely to join extremist organizations.

Rationalist Theoretical Approach

The rationalist approach to radicalization considers the personal choices that a person makes to join a terrorist organization. It focuses on the cost and benefits of being in such an organization that a person gets. A child may decide to join such a movement following his or her perceived advantages of the movement. This rationalist theory has been used to explain may terrorist attacks whereby the terrorists seek to gain in a given bargain. For instance, if two parties wanted two different things, they may choose a peaceful bargain, or violence. Some individuals select terrorism to gain an advantage over their opponents as they know that these violent acts will paralyses their opponents and make them easy to defeat. Consequently, they will choose the peaceful option for solving their problems (Lake, 2002, p. 16). This theory uses the notion that a person chooses to engage in terrorism based on personal analysis of the cost and benefits that will come from this action (Maskaliunaite, 2015, p. 21). This factor also applies to the decision of young adults to join terrorist organizations. Some do so after assessing the situation and seeing that the act will be beneficial to them.

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