We cannot afford to leave the youth behind whenever we discuss matters concerning them. Young people being the most vulnerable to lots of societal vices such as drug addiction, sexual crimes, influences to join cults and criminal gangs ought not to be ignored when making plans regarding their issues.
Its no doubt that youth of the 21st century must deal with challenges such as unemployment, poverty, having a strong urge to belong, feeling neglected, peer pressure, lacking an identity, low self-esteem due to one reason or the other among many other challenges. This in turn has led a majority of them into depression and stress and in the end, many have made regrettable choices regardless of the moral implications to quench their thirsts.
Committing violent acts and joining violent extremist groups is one such choice many youths have made and, in the end, if asked this has always had its roots in the challenges faced. For instance, a youth would commit a serious crime such as murder or even commit suicide and after investigations, it has always turned out to be as a result of neglect by friends or family members, poverty, among other challenges they experienced.
As we continue in efforts to counter extremism and radicalization among the youth, it is important to have the youth involved in the leadership, plans and policymaking process.
Kenya and other African nations need to bring the young generation onboard through harnessing the energy and creativity of the youth to revitalize action on violent extremism that has gained foothold amid poverty, conflicts, social exclusions among other challenges facing the youth.
To put the youth at the centre of counter-terrorism initiatives, there is need to change policies that discriminate the youth in leadership and policy formulation to ensure they play a meaningful role in peace, security, and prevention of violent extremism. Youth are in a better position to fight radicalization through countering divisive narratives spread by militant groups hence the government should support existing efforts to combat violent extremism that are led by the youth.