Sports can help prevent violent extremism in youth: Study on Pakistani youngster finds

Violent extremism condones violent actions that are based on political or religious ideologies, and youth are particularly vulnerable to it.

Young people may be vulnerable to violent extremism due to several reasons including social exclusion, discrimination, hate, trauma, racism and forced displacement. These reasons often accumulate over time, leading to increased frustrations among youth and making them vulnerable to exploitation by extremist groups who promise them a better life and sense of community.

A recent research explored the reasons behind youth involvement in violent extremism in the South Punjab region of Pakistan and found that sports could help prevent it through resilience building. Sports is a powerful tool that can help change lives if used in an organized way.
The researchers explored two non-profit organizations’ implementation of sports for development and peace programs in Pakistan.

They found that youth vulnerability could be changed by building life skills and developing social and moral values through sport and providing stress free environment.
For example, Swat Youth Front uses soccer, volleyball and cricket to promote peace values among war survivors. Similarly, Kafka Welfare Organization uses team-based sports to promote peace among young people in Pakistan.

The youth they interacted with—as part of their research—mentioned that they often “felt alone and neglected, but now feel important and have a purpose in life.” Many were thrilled to feel respected by their teammates it helped them feel equal.

Read the research paper here: https://hdl.handle.net/10371/144131

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