About extremism

Violent extremism  means way of thinking and acting that opposes the basic values of a democratic society, such as equality, diversity, universal human rights and the rule of law. Violent extremism is based on strict and hostile us-against-them mentality where violence against certain groups of people is justified on ideological grounds.


Violent radicalisation describes the process during which a person’s values, attitudes and worldview escalate and begin to contain violent features. Violent radicalization therefore reflects a growing commitment to violent ideology and/or action.  Violent radicalization is an individual process that is influenced by several different psychological, social and societal factors.


Violent extremism endangers child’s right to wellbeing and safe living enviroment

Violent extremism infringes children’s right to equal treatment and safe living environment which support their individual development into responsible members of society. Violent extremism erodes balance within society by spurring feelings of insecurity and polarization. It normalizes violence, for example by means of hate speech, and in this way erodes the well-being and sense of security of the people who are targets of hate speech. Ideological violence affects the whole society, sowing hostility between groups, creating threat scenarios and uncertainty about the future.

Internet is one of the main stages for violent radicalization

Hateful extremist content spreads easily online, where people with violent ideologies share their views and violent extremist groups share their propaganda. In online environments, violence is normalised through hate speech, which targets population groups that have historically been in a subordinate social position, such as women and many minorities. In recent years, particularly immigrants as well as gender and sexual minorities have become targets of extremist hate content. In the online sphere, networks of individuals who share a similar extremist worldview can easily emerge, where violence against certain human groups is glorified and taken to the utmost inhumane levels. “This so-called echo chamber, where violent thoughts are accepted and encouraged to be expressed, perpetuates negative attitudes between groups and fosters a violent worldview.

Youth are also recruited by violent extremism

Almost all violent extremist movements spread their propaganda online. Often, this propaganda specifically targets the youth, and many extremist groups also engage in recruiting young individuals through online environments. Youth are a susceptible target for extremist movements because they use the internet daily, and they are in a developmental stage sensitive to social influences. Young people, particularly those who find themselves marginalized from society for one reason or another, are a vulnerable target for extremist movements. The lack of options and feelings of hopelessness can drive them to search for new possibilities and, as a result, embrace extreme ideologies.

Every other youth worker has faced a young person with extremist ideologies

The presence of extremist ideologies and hostility, particularly towards minority groups, is widespread in online environments, manifesting as hate speech. Three out of four professionals working with young people have encountered hate speech in their line of work, with every other professional encountering a young person whose worldview has become violent. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to recognize the connection between these two aspects: hate speech not only normalizes violence and hostile attitudes but also paves the way for potential acts of hostility. The attitudes propagated through hate speech are intertwined with larger societal structures, perpetuating inequality and further entrenching hostile relationships between various groups.

Read more about the impact of violent extremism on children and youth from Save the Children publications: