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Empowering communities
Empowering communities

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5 Empowering communities to deal more effectively with crime and criminality

A key challenge facing many communities across the world is that of how to deal more effectively with crime and criminality. Involvement in crime and what might be termed criminal persuasion can occur at any time of life, though children and young people are more vulnerable.

  • In order to minimise the risk of criminality, the involvement of parents and communities is vital.

Role of parents

Parents are usually the most important people in their children’s lives. Their views and behaviours can have a good or bad influence on their children’s behaviour including offending behaviour. Children are much less likely to get into trouble if their parents:

  • have a good relationship with them and can talk openly with them
  • can agree sensible clear rules and encourage them to stick to them as much as possible
  • know where they are and what they are up to.

School and community

Children are also less likely to get into trouble if their parents have an interest in their school life and they have good relationships with their teachers. This all helps to encourage children to go to school as often as possible.

Children are less likely to offend if their parents can help them to become involved in activities or interests in their local community. This can include youth clubs, sports clubs, uniformed groups and church groups. (NIDirect, no date)

Moving beyond the more commonplace types of crime and criminality, the terms radicalisation; extremism; grooming and recruitment are often heard in the media and popular discourse. These all play a significant risk for people of all ages, but most particularly young people.

What are the risk factors and protective factors for radicalisation?

In recent years a significant amount of work has been undertaken to understand the causes of radicalisation in various contexts. While there is no one single reason or cause, Bhui et al. (2012) summarise the key risk factors and protective factors for radicalisation as follows:


Table 3 Key risk factors and protective factors for radicalisation
Factor Description
Risk factors Young people facing transitions: education, place, family, religion and so on
Cognitive and social openings to new influences
Social isolation and exclusion
Grievances about discrimination that may be personal, related to unfair treatment at work, access to health care or about other inequalities in society
Migrant status and experiences before and after immigration
International conflict that is considered unjust against a group with which individual identifies on religious, national or cultural grounds
Perceived threat to family and cultural group
Marginalized and traditional cultural identities
Discrimination thought to explain group inequalities in health and social status and access to wealth
Not able to negotiate needs and protest through non-violent and democratic means
Contact with influential or charismatic leaders who justify terrorism (for example, in prisons, or in schools or universities)
Protective factors Social support
Social cohesion
Social capital and trust in institutions
Feeling of safety and security in neighborhood
Integrated cultural identity
Employment success
Access to democratic means for negotiating needs and opinions
Access to critical religious leadership that can moderate and inform on legitimate religious perspectives