Building Community Resilience to Violent Extremism Through Genuine Partnerships
What is community resilience in relation to violent extremism, and how can we build it? This article explores strategies to harness community assets that may contribute to preventing youth from embracing violent extremism, drawing from models of community resilience as defined in relation to disaster preparedness. Research suggests that social connection is at the heart of resilient communities and any strategy to increase community resilience must both harness and enhance existing social connections, and endeavor to not damage or diminish them. First, the role of social connection within and between communities is explored. Specifically, the ways in which social bonding and social bridging can diminish risk for violence, including violent extremism, is examined. Second, research on the role of social connection between communities and institutions or governing bodies (termed social linking) is described. This research is discussed in terms of how the process of government partnering with community members can both provide systems for early intervention for violent extremism, as well as strengthen bonding and bridging social networks and in this way contribute broadly to building community resilience. Finally, community-based participatory research, a model of community engagement and partnership in research, is presented as a road map for building true partnerships and community engagement.