Youth Radicalization to Violence in Canada: A Scoping Study on Factors and Government Mechanism

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Obisesan, David Oluwadare
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Mount Saint Vincent University
Radicalization toward violence is when people become increasingly motivated by their beliefs and use deadly means against people or specific targets to achieve behavioral change or political goals. This global phenomenon varies across different socio-political environments, and an increasing number of youth in Canada are playing critical roles in spreading this phenomenon as they get more radicalized and attack local targets. These highlight the need to research youth involvement in this phenomenon in Canada. To explore how radicalization toward violence is framed in Canada, what factors drive children and youth into violent radicalization, and what gaps in government policies are preventing and de-radicalizing youths in Canada, I used the Social Identity Theory and the Theory of Intersectionality to conduct a scoping review of the literature published between 2013 and 2023. A search of four databases yielded 118 articles, which were then screened and reduced to 18 using inclusion and exclusion criteria. Four common themes emerged from the analysis: Internet and social media, mental Health, and COVID-19 as emerging enablers of youth radicalization toward violence; Gangs, intersectionality, religious stereotyping, and lone actors play critical roles in explaining social identity and belonging among youth; right-wing narratives and inter-communal conflicts help to provide more perspectives on the politicization of radicalization toward violence happening among youth; the need to understand the different pathways to violent radicalization and adopting community-based approaches as intervention and prevention were also highlighted. The analysis highlights the need for further research into emerging enabling factors for youth radicalization toward violence. The government needs to sustain and enhance funding of interventions in preventing and deradicalizing youth. Lastly, there should be improved synergy among stakeholders working in the field of counterterrorism for effective information dissemination and exchange for proactive and reactive counter-terrorism purposes.