Triggers

Triggers of at risk and vulnerability differ depending on life stages. Unfortunately, because triggers are different and occur at different ages, paired with the gap between preventive services and law enforcement consequences, there is a lack of documented warning signs.

In addition, the lack of preventive services perpetuates the problem, prevents behavioral research and education for the public and professionals, while strengthening the structural conditions to perpetuate the all-time high of domestic and international extremism. NBC News reported a 35% increase in world-wide terrorist attacks (June 19, 2015).

It can be argued the individuals at risk for extremist influence and/or violence could be considered victims because the intent to join or act on behalf of an extremist group is not present at the onset of coercion. The intent to belong and the lack of emotional regulation or rational thought are the key drivers. Perpetrators prey on the vulnerable and manipulate them for their benefit.

Who is at risk? The majority at risk are youths and young adults who perceive their social and contextual influences as unfair or are not “playing by the rules.” Remember, it is the perceived unfairness or “rule breaking behavior” by at risk individuals. It does not matter if individuals are having virtual or conventional relationships. While the majority of at risk individuals are youths and young adults, adults of all ages are not immune to triggers resulting in at risk behavior.

Currently, there are no organizations that act as a safety net to guard against individuals who are at risk of antisocial behavior. Preventive organizations would need to offer mental health and social services to help (re)integrate the victims into society. Law enforcement would need to be trained to understand the development of such behavior and assist in the preventive process.

In order to correct the societal issue, all sectors must come together to create preventive programs and services in an effort to protect at risk individuals. It is not just the responsibility of one sector in society, but of all sectors in society, including social services, law enforcement, human rights agencies and families. We can accomplish much more together than we can alone.

In closing, an abbreviated version of a poem from Maya Angelou entitled, “Alone” is most appropriate.

“Lying, thinking last night, how to find my soul a home, where water is not thirsty, and bread loaf is not stone, I came up with one thing, and I don’t believe I am wrong, that nobody, but nobody, can make it out here alone.”