Supporting families of foreign fighters. A realistic approach for measuring the effectiveness

Amy-Jane Gielen

Abstract


Recently so-called ´family hotlines’ were launched in the Netherlands, France, Austria, serving as a resource for the parents and relatives who are confronted with the (potential) foreign fighter phenomenon. The hotline connects callers with social and religious services in an effort help prevent the (further) radicalisation of young Muslims or support families whose loved ones have travelled to Syria. In other countries such as Denmark (Aarhus) family talk groups were set up by the municipality or by affected parents, such as ‘Les parents concernés’ in Belgium. Family support is a relatively new approach within counter-radicalisation policy in which the Germans pioneered since 2012.

Supporting families is considered valuable for several reasons and can be provided at different stages (Gielen, 2014):

  • In its earliest stages, family support can be provided to parents of individuals at risk, by addressing their concerns, working on (maintaining) a positive family environment with an open atmosphere in which they can discuss extremist ideas with their child and provide positive alternatives.

  • If radical or extremist ideas lead to travel to a conflict zone abroad, such as Syria or Iraq, foreign fighters quite often remain in touch with their families back home. Family support can then be aimed at maintaining contact with their children or relatives and in creating a positive environment for a child to return home;

  • When extremist views turn into violence and ultimately imprisonment, families can be supported whilst their relative is imprisoned or afterwards in the re-integration and re-habilitation process, such going back to school and helping them find a job.

  • If practitioners are able to create and sustain a relationship with families of foreign fighters, then it will be easier to create an entry point for contact with the foreign fighter upon his/her return. This is of particular importance, as families are also crucial for de-radicalisation and disengagement work.

  • Moreover, family members such as brothers, sisters, cousins, but also peers, form an at-risk group of travelling to Syria. Supporting families and the broader professional network of the family (such as school teachers) should enable practitioners and family members to act upon early warning signals and prevent travel of other family members or peers;

  • Providing family support can work as a very powerful narrative for foreign fighters to come home. A lot of foreign fighters are afraid of returning because they fear prosecution or Guantanamo Bay. In one country were family and individual support was offered on a local level, parents spread the word that ‘the government was there to help them’. This message found its way back to the foreign fighters in Syria, providing a powerful narrative and highlighting the internal/external and local/global dimension of providing support;

  • Finally, foreign fighters cause a lot of grief, anxiety, despair and upset for family members to the point they are no longer actively able to participate in society (not able to work etc.) for which psychological counselling is essential.

This article will focus on family support as part of counter-radicalisation policy. How can its effectiveness be measured? To answer this question, this article will draw on realistic evaluation which revolves around ‘what works, for who, in which context and how? (Pawson & Tilley 1997). It will discuss the different forms and merits of family support across Europe by drawing upon the lessons learned of practitioners engaging in family support within the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) including two case studies in which support was provided offered to families of foreign fighters by myself. Based on these practitioner experiences hypotheses on family support as part of a counter-radicalisation strategy are developed which in turn could be used for empirical testing.


Keywords


Foreign Fighters; family counceling; family hotlines

Full Text:

PDF

References


Bovenkerk, Frank (2013). “Training Diamant. Een persoonlijke impressie”. Tijdschrift voor Veiligheid, 4 (12), pp. 3-12

Burssens, D. (2007) Hoe evident is evidencebased beleid? Alert, 33(3), 51-63.

Dantschke, C. (2010). Familien stärken - gegen Extremismus und Gewalt. Die speziellen Anforderungen im Kontext Türkischer Ultranationalismus und Islamismus. Schriftenreihe Zentrum Demokratische Kultur, Juli 2010.

Feddes, Allard R, Liesbeth Mann, Nathalie de Zwart & Bertjan Doosje (2013). “Duale identiteit in een multiculturele samenleving: een longitudinale kwalitatieve effectmeeting van de weerbaarheidstraining Diamant.” Tijdschrift voor Veiligheid, 4 (12), pp. 27-44

Gielen, Amy-Jane (2008). Radicalisering en Identiteit. Radicale rechtse en moslimjongeren vergeleken. Amsterdam: Aksant.

Gielen, A.J. (2009a) Een kwestie van identiteit. Evaluatie training Identiteit & Weerbaarheid voor moslima’s. Almere: A.G. Advies.

Gielen, A.J. (2009b) Uitgesproken meningen. Evaluatie van de religieus-seculiere kring in Stads‐ deel Slotervaart. Almere: A.G. Advies.

Gielen, A.J. (2009c) Religie en cultuur in de (Marokkaanse) opvoeding. Evaluatie cursus opvoedingsondersteuning in Stadsdeel Slotervaart. Almere: A.G. Advies.

Gielen, A.J. (2010) The Battle of Osdorp. Een evaluatie van masterclasses discussiëren op scholen in Amsterdam-Osdorp. Almere: A.G. Advies.

Gielen, Amy-Jane (2014). "Syrië-strijders: liever families ondersteunen dan paspoort afnemen. Antiradicalisering in België, Denemarken en Duitsland" Tijdschrift voor Sociale Vraagstukken, nr. 1, pp. 20-23

Gielen, A.J. & J. Grin (2010) “De betekenissen van evidence based handelen en de aard van evidence” In: D. Verlet & C. Devos (red.), Efficiëntie en effectiviteit van de publieke sector in de weegschaal. Brussel: Studiedienst van de Vlaamse Regering.

Gielen, Amy-Jane en Gerd Junne (2008). "Evaluatie van antiradicaliseringsprojecten. Hoe meet je of radicalisering wordt tegengegaan? " In: Dries Verlet en Carlos Devos (red). Over beleidsevaluatie: van theorie naar praktijk en terug. Brussel: Studiedienst van de Vlaamse Regering.

Guldener, V.R. van, Potman, H.P., Bennekom (2012) Vijf jaar lokale projecten Polarisatie en Radicalisering. Resultaatinventarisatie over de periode 2007-2011. Arnhem: KplusV organisatieadvies, WODC.

Horgan, John & Kurt Braddock (2010). “Rehabilitating the Terrorists?: Challenges

in Assessing the Effectiveness of De-radicalization Programs”, Terrorism and Political Violence, 22:2, 267-291

Koehler, Daniel (2013). “Family counselling as prevention and intervention tool against ‘Foreign Fighters’. The German ‘Hayat’ Program.” JEX Journal EXIT-Deutschland. Zeitschrift für Deradikalisierung und demokratische Kultur, 3, p.182-204

Lousberg, M., D. van Hemert & S. Langelaan (2009) Ingrijpen bij radicalisering. De mogelijk‐ heden van de eerstelijnswerker. Soesterberg: TNO Veiligheid en Defensie.

Lub, V. (2009) Stimulering van maatschappelijke binding van jongeren. Een verkenning naar sociale interventies op het terrein van radicalisering en culturele spanningen. Utrecht: Movisie.

Lub, V. (2013). “Polarisation, radicalisation and social policy: Evaluating the theories of change”, Evidence and Policy 9 (2), pp. 165-183

Pawson, R. & N. Tilley (1997) Realistic Evaluation. London: SAGE.

Pawson, R. (2002a) “Evidence-based Policy. In Search of a Method.” Evaluation, 8(2), 157-181.

Pawson, R. (2002b) “Evidence-based Policy. The Promise of ‘Realist Synthesis’.” Evaluation, 8(3), 340-358.

Quint, Hani (2013). “Ben ik van Mars? Evaluatie van het Halt-project ‘De ander en ik’ tegen radicalisering en polarisatie in Limburg” Tijdschrift voor Veiligheid, 4 (12), pp. 70-81

RAN (2013). RAN Collection of Best Practices. http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/networks/radicalisation_awareness_network/ran-best-practices/index_en.htm

San, Marion van, Stijn Sieckelinck en Micha de Winter (2011). Idealen op drift, een pedagogische kijk op radicaliserende jongeren. Boom Lemma Uitgevers.

Scott, James (1998). Seeing Like a State. How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. Yale: Yale University Press.

Schön, Donald A. & Martin Rein (1994). Frame Reflection. Toward the Resolution of Intractable Policy Controversies. New York: Basis Books.

Uitermark, Justus, Amy-Jane Gielen & Marcel Ham (red.) (2012). Wat werkt nu werkelijk? Politiek en praktijk van sociale interventies. Amsterdam; Van Gennep.

Van der Laan (2012). “Sleutelen aan de criminoge factoren. Effectieve bemoeienis in het strafrecht.” In: Uitermark, Justus, Amy-Jane Gielen & Marcel Ham (red.). Wat werkt nu werkelijk? Politiek en praktijk van sociale interventies. Amsterdam; Van Gennep.

Van Yperen, Tom (2012). “Do’s and don’t’s in de jeugdzorg. Werkende principes en ingrediënten”. In: Uitermark, Justus, Amy-Jane Gielen & Marcel Ham (red.) Wat werkt nu werkelijk? Politiek en praktijk van sociale interventies. Amsterdam; Van Gennep.

Vermeulen, Floris (2014). “Suspect Communities – Targeting Violent Extremism at the Local Level: Policies of Engagement in Amsterdam, Berlin, and London”. Terrorism and Political Violence, 2014, Vol.26(2), p.286-306

Yanow, Dvora (1994). How Does a Policy Mean? Interpreting Policy and Organizational Actions. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.

Yanow, D. (2006) “Evidence-based Policy”. In: M.W. Bevir (ed.), Encyclopedia of Governance. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.


Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Copyright (c) 2015 Amy-Jane Gielen

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

ISSN: 2363-9849 

Proud Member of the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)