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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychiatry | doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00644

Do radicalized minors have different social and psychological profiles from radicalized adults ?

 David Cohen1*,  Alice Oppetit2, Nicolas Campelo3, Laura Bouzar4, Hugues Pellerin2, Serge Hefez2, Guillaume Bronsard5 and Dounia Bouzar4
  • 1Université Pierre et Marie Curie, France
  • 2Psychiatrie de l’Enfant et de l’Adolescent, Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière, Assistance Publique Hopitaux De Paris, France
  • 3ARTEMIS, Groupe SOS, France
  • 4Radicalisation, Bouzar-Expertises, France
  • 5Psychiatrie de l’Enfant et de l’Adolescent, Université de Bretagne Occidentale, France

Introduction: Radicalization is a major issue in Western societies. Supposedly, there is no predefined pathway leading to radicalization. However, youth appears to be at risk for radicalization. The aim of this study was to compare the social and psychological profiles of radicalized minors and radicalized adults.

Methods: This cross-sectional study is based on the first large prospective sample of young French individuals (N=150) who aimed to join the Islamic State (IS) between 2014 and 2016. 70 were adolescents (mean age 15.82 years old, SD 1.14) and 80 were young adults (mean age 23.32 years, SD 4.99). Using a quantitative method, we compared the two groups on their sociodemographic and psychological characteristics.

Results: Radicalized minors and radicalized adults have different profiles and follow different paths in the radicalization process. Among the group of minors, there are significantly more female subjects in the group of minors (81.4% versus 55.0%, p = 0.001) and more self-harm history before radicalization (44.3% versus 16.2%, p <0.001). In addition, there are significantly less cases of radicalization among the entourage (32.9% versus 52.5%, p=0.015), less attempts to radicalize the entourage (24.3% versus 50.0%, p=0.001), less radicalization through physical encounter (45.7% versus 65%, p=0.018).

Discussion: Overall, radicalized minors appear to be more psychologically vulnerable individuals than radicalized adults. These differences highlight the importance of tailored interventions in order to prevent radicalization among vulnerable adolescents.

Keywords: Radicalization, Terrorism, Violence, Social context, adolescence

Received: 08 Nov 2018; Accepted: 08 Aug 2019.

Edited by:

Kerstin Jessica V. Plessen, Département de Psychiatrie, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Switzerland

Reviewed by:

Edward D. Barker, Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom
Martin Steppan, University Psychiatric Clinic Basel, Switzerland  

Copyright: © 2019 Cohen, Oppetit, Campelo, Bouzar, Pellerin, Hefez, Bronsard and Bouzar. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. David Cohen, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France, david.cohen@psl.aphp.fr