News | April 28, 2022

Exploring the Social-Ecological Factors that Mobilize Children into Violence

By Mia Bloom

This article applies the social-ecological model to children’s mobilization into two violent groups—Central American gangs and terrorist organizations. While these two groups clearly differ in important ways, there are contextual similarities that frame a child’s involvement in each. For example, both flourish in low-resource settings where governmental structures may have been weakened or disrupted. Does it follow, therefore, that similar processes are at play in relation to children engaging in violent groups? This paper seeks to answer this question, reviewing available literature on the social-ecological factors that promote engagement in each group. Points of convergence and divergence between the groups are identified, and implications for prevention and intervention efforts are explored.

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Associated Minerva-funded project: Preventing the Next Generation: Mapping the Pathways of Children's Mobilization into Violent Extremist Organizations