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PERIL brings the resources and expertise of the university sector to bear on the pressing problem of growing youth polarization and extremist radicalization. Through partnerships, funded research and evaluations, and out-of-the-box design thinking, PERIL empirically tests scalable research, intervention, and public education ideas to reduce rising polarization and hate. What works best to increase youth empathy and cross-cultural understanding? How can media literacy training be made more effective? What intervention approaches work best with youth or with parents, teachers, college advisors and other adults to reduce radicalization and build resilience to extremist narratives? These and other questions are at the heart of PERIL’s work across the ideological spectrum. We connect innovative academic expertise with the public.

Who is this guide for? We wrote this guide with a wide

range of caregivers in mind...Whether you live with a young person, or work virtually with youth, radicalization to extremism is something we all should be concerned about. Extremists looking to recruit and convert children are predatory. Like all forms of child exploitation, extremist recruitment drives a wedge between young people and the
adults they would typically trust. The radicalization
of young people is a threat to civil society, from the
innocent people it victimizes to the family bonds it
breaks apart. In addition to the anxieties of the COVID-19 era, ongoing Black Lives Matter protests against the legacy of police brutality and systemic racism are also being exploited by far-right extremists. These protests affirm
the need to end and to dismantle white supremacy as
an essential step to preventing extremist radicalization.
Extremists are seeking to co-opt these protests
in ways that heighten the risks of violence and online
radicalization. This guide will help families, caregivers,
and youth recognize and confront new risks posed by
far-right extremists during this time. It will also help
you build resilience against these risks well beyond
this moment.



​​​​Expressions of explicit bias (discrimination, hate speech, etc.) occur as the result of deliberate thought. Thus, they can be consciously regulated. People are more motivated to control their biases if there are social norms in place which dictate that prejudice is not socially acceptable. As we start forming our biases at an early age, it is important that we reinforce norms in our homes, schools, and in the media that promote respect for one’s own and other groups. Research shows that emphasizing a common group identity (such as “we are all Americans”) can help reduce interracial tensions that may arise between majority and minority ethnic groups in the U.S. Also, when conducted under the right conditions, studies show intergroup contact between people of different races can increase trust and reduce the anxiety that underlies bias.


We, as a nation, are proud of the civil rights gains we have made. And we oppose race discrimination. So why is Trayvon Martin dead? Why are Black children three and a half times more likely to be disciplined in school? Why are 34% of White Americans who shoot Black Americans and assert “Stand Your Ground” Legal protections acquitted of murder charges, while a mere three percent of Blacks are?



Given the lack of teacher training, the minimal support from school administrations, and the large class sizes, it is not surprising that teachers struggle to respond appropriately to discipline issues while attempting to serve the remaining pupils in the classroom. Discipline issues are greatly exacerbated by the fact that teachers are often not taught about the developmental psychology of youth, including the effects of chronic trauma and toxic stress on children’s learning. Educators often misunderstand youth of color, asking the question “What is wrong with them?” as opposed to “What has happened to them?” Unfortunately, racial trauma is just one area of trauma that many students face. Students must also overcome trauma associated with poverty, violence, abuse, and other forms of victimization. In order for teachers to be successful in helping students learn and develop high-level cognitive skills, they must first be educated about and respond to student behavior through trauma-informed practices. Most are not trained to do so.



Schools are implementing Restorative Justice in Education (RJE) initiatives across the United States, often to reduce the use of out-of-school suspension, which is known to increase the risk for dropout and arrest. Many RJE initiatives also aim to strengthen social and emotional competencies, reduce gender and racial disparities in discipline, and increase access to equitable and supportive environments for students from marginalized groups. This policy brief summarizes research on restorative initiatives, with a focus on implementation and outcomes in U.S. schools. After examining the evidence, the authors offer recommendations for comprehensive RJE models and strategic implementation plans to drive more consistently positive outcomes. School-based practices that (a) center healthy relationships, (b) work to heal harms and transform conflict, and (c) advocate for justice and equity include both preventative and responsive practices. As responsive practices, restorative approaches to discipline contrast with punitive models in that they address the needs of the person(s) harmed and provide opportunities for those who caused the harm to make amends. 

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