Polarization, extremism, hate groups, conspiracy theories, misinformation…it’s all pretty overwhelming and more than a little scary. Families, caregivers, and communities need help to prepare for and respond to online hate and to hate groups recruiting young people via a whole variety of manipulative online tactics. Starting upstream is one of the best ways to do this. One of the best resilience factors that allow kids and teens to resist becoming involved with radical hate groups is a sense of belonging in their communities. It sure seems like there is a role for libraries in there, doesn’t it?! It would be great to consciously think about how we can welcome and engage tweens and teens who might be vulnerable in such a way that they feel like they truly do have a place to belong.
I came across some resources, created by The Western States Center, in conjunction with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the American University’s Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL).
- Building Resilience in Our Homes and Communities: Conversations about Youth and Online Bigotry, a recorded webinar with representatives from each organization, available for a limited time.
- Building Networks and Addressing Harm: A Community Guide to Online Youth Radicalization (created by SPLC and PERIL—using a public health approach to the problem)
- Building Resilience and Confronting Risk: Parent and Caregivers Guide to Online Radicalization (SPLC and PERIL toolkit)
- Confronting Conspiracy Theories and Organized Bigotry at Home: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers (Western States Center)
I hope you’ll check these out, and find ways to share these resources with families and with partners at school, Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, YMCA, churches, and more! And if anyone wants to talk about this more, I’m very interested to hear what you are thinking!