The day before the tragic Parkland Florida school massacre, I attended a private forum in Palo Alto on digital solutions to counter violent extremism among youth. This forum was organized through the Department of Homeland Security Office of Public-Private Partnerships. The purpose of the event is terrorism prevention strategy development, aimed at thwarting efforts to recruit youth into violent groups, such as gangs, and extremist groups like ISIS and neo-Nazis. This initiative is a collaboration between the DHS, universities, and social media firms including Google, Snap, Twitter and Facebook. Some non-profit organizations, like Core Connectivity, devoted to prevention strategy for youth and families were also invited to participate.
The aim of this initiative is to share insights and solutions, and foster a spirit of collaboration to effectively counter the online violent ideologies and narratives that can influence youth who are vulnerable (i.e., experiencing strong emotion associated with financial, criminal, spiritual hardships and/or mental health issues; or youth passionate about taking action to remedy social injustices).
While I am not at liberty to publish the specifics of the digital prevention strategies that were shared at this forum, I came away from the event encouraged that the data initiatives and campaigns shared appeared to be focused on identifying early signs of harmful messages in social media without violating the rights of the individuals involved, and then engaging youth to counter the violent online narratives with ones that offer civil and peaceful alternatives.
More importantly, I am also more convinced that there remains a tremendous need for tech-savvy youth to experience the discipline associated with civil liberty that comes from the parent heart (i.e., wisdom).
A recent blog post by Tim Elmore on “Leading the Next Generation” acknowledges that the Parkland tragedy is perhaps a tipping point because the youth voices are emerging strong in the media; they have rallied with peers from other communities to organize a march on Washington, March 24. Furthermore, Elmore points out that the gunman’s parents were “gone”, and he had mental health issues that went unaddressed.
Since we cannot legislate the wellness that comes from quality relationships at home and in the community, let’s encourage one another to roll up our sleeves and educate ourselves on how our innovations are impacting youth and then empower them to overcome the strong emotion the use of technology inspires.
Perhaps this Parkland tragedy may be a tipping point to teach youth the discipline associated with civil liberty and the use of technology. This discipline involves wisdom thoughts emanating from a belief in the inalienable power of self-determination for every individual to be free agents (to think independently from the network culture); a communication which must be understood in the context of a world accentuated with social media deployed in ways that shape victimized world views to inspire fear and anger.
Parents can do something. We can help students prevent violence at their schools by strengthening our own role at home to teach our children how to regulate the use of technology and reckon with the strong emotions of online life that disturb the peace and interfere with their own academic and vocational pursuits. Let us be confident in our powers of self-determination as individuals, families and communities.
To learn more about our training and network of resources, contact Joanna.
About: We are a non-profit education center founded in Roseville, CA to strengthen the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. Our mission is to restore families with the mustard seed of faith that declares liberty already belongs to the soul because one God, the Creator of all humanity, grants every human being intelligence and free will to choose what to believe, and that is power that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device. To that end, ten percent of all proceeds are donated to prison ministries. Your donations are greatly appreciated. (Donations are payable to Banana Moments Foundation).
Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and consultant on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber-powered world. She is a former technology executive trained in behavioral science at U.C. Berkeley, a mother of two grown sons, and an author of books for practical guidance on parenting, growing up and family life in the network culture. As a family and technology culture advisor, Joanna has appeared on 103.9FM The Fish, 710AM Keeping Faith in America, 1380AM The Answer, and Examiner.com.