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Women Arise civil society led by Joe Odumakin (C) accompanied by afro-beat musician Femi Anikulapo Kuti demonstrate to press for the release of missing Chibok school girls in Lagos on May 12, 2014.

Curriculum teaches mothers to protect their children from extremism.

Mothers Against Terror

October 2015, Number 06.04

“Radicalization is a process that often takes place at home under the noses of parents and close family members. Parents are often unaware of what is going on with their adolescent or young adult child until it is too late. When a son or daughter “changes,” it isn’t necessarily a warning sign. Adolescence is a time of change. Parents sometimes feel secure and relieved when their child turns away from drugs and embraces Islam instead. From then on, there is no smoking, no drinking, no sleeping until noon. Other parents may ponder the seriousness of certain behavior patterns but assess them as harmless and within the undefined borders of adolescent “storm and stress,” as one mother of a foreign fighter put it. She was concerned and torn between tolerance and helplessness. “He wouldn’t talk with me as much as he used to. He stopped seeing his friends and spent more and more time in his room.” These were warning signs, but they were overlooked until the son went to Syria and soon after was killed...”

Excerpt from Edit Schlaffer and Ulrich Kropiunigg, Mothers Against Terror,” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues  6, No. 4, 2015: 18-25.

Dr. Edit Schlaffer is a social scientist and founder of Women without Borders, a nongovernmental organization based in Vienna, Austria, that seeks to strengthen women to prevent violent extremism. In 2008, she launched the Sisters Against Violent Extremism (SAVE) campaign, focusing the organization’s efforts on the security arena. She has lectured at the Marshall Center.

Dr. Ulrich Kropiunigg is an expert in psychology with an emphasis on social and political issues. He has studied attitude changes and group dynamics, taboos in families with adolescents, psychological determinants of radicalization and early prevention of extremism. He co-designed the curricula for the Women without Borders’ Mother Schools program and was a professor at the Centre for Public Health at the Medical University of Vienna.

This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.