- Publication date
- 13 October 2021 (Last updated on: 6 October 2021)
- Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs
While young women and men already face several challenges in the transition to adulthood, such as economic insecurity, social changes and the need to adapt to new life environments, surviving a terrorist attack can increase the burden of having to navigate big life-changing events while also needing to cope with trauma. Indeed, there is a growing need to make victim support and other support services, that are often tailored to older generations, more accessible and responsive to the needs of young people. At the same time, young victims/survivors of terrorism can play a valuable role in the prevention and countering of violent extremism (P/CVE) because they represent a credible voice, especially to their peers, and their story can also serve as an inspiring example of resilience.
The RAN Victims/survivors of Terrorism Working Group meeting on 18 June discussed how to support young victims/survivors of terrorism in making their voices heard. The meeting brought together young victims/survivors and first-line practitioners and organisations working with them such as youth workers, educational professionals, social workers and psychologists. Because sustainable support for young victims/survivors and meaningful P/CVE programmes go hand in hand, they discussed how best to support young victims/survivors wanting to play a role in P/CVE and how to provide tailored support in their healing process that addresses the diversity of challenges young people face.
Indeed, support should be based on a youth-sensitive needs assessment as the voices of young victims/survivors cannot be separated from their needs. To lessen the risk of retraumatisation due to project limitations or risk-related interventions, support needs to be organised in a sustainable fashion. There are many interrelated challenges; support structures often do not take the specific needs of young victim s/survivors into account, for example when they have to deal with major life events coming up, such as moving to a different city to start higher education, navigating the labour market or institutions and so on. They are or soon will be in a transitional phase, moving to self-sustained adulthood, and they need the right support to guide them through this.
Supporting young victims/survivors in a meaningful way means addressing needs and interests ranging from psychological well-being, their educational environment, their families and supporting environment and the relationship with their peers. Helping them making their voices heard requires a sensible approach that avoids retraumatisation and ensures that the needs of victims/survivors inform the P/CVE efforts and not the other way around. This conclusion paper reflects the discussions of the Working Group meeting of 18 June and includes recommendations and lessons learned in relation to working with and supporting young victims/survivors of terrorism and identifies gaps that need to be further explored.