One would be left wondering what the next generation would be if all we hear about our youth whom we expect to drive our nation’s future are turning into criminals, drug addicts, and others getting recruited into violent extremist gangs. As the world continues to battle the COVID -19 pandemic, the youth in various parts of the country are increasingly recruited to extremist groups, hence the need to understand and address the reason behind it.
As opposed to the past where youth from the Coast, North Eastern and Nairobi were easily being exposed to radicalization influences owing to the interests of recruiters and proximity of some of the areas to Al Shabaab's hoods and Somalia, recent reports have revealed a rise in youth in Western, Nyanza and Rift Valley regions being a target and falling prey to radicalization and violent extremism.
It is crucial to understand that there are forces behind every decision made in life and most people tend to take directions that seem to favor their situations to easily acquire certain opportunities with the hope that things will work for them regardless of the means.
With little education and lack of employment opportunities, the youth tend to easily get lured into making irresponsible choices in life some of which turn out to be dangerous and costly in the end. Being the most vulnerable in society, the young generation out of desperation takes whatever comes their way to satisfy their needs.
Majority youth due to the fact they come from poor backgrounds will easily be lured into radicalization with promises of better opportunities that will see them change their situations but finally they end up being used and regretting. Many who got into radicalization and came back have revealed that they ended up there with hope for a better future accompanied by good money, however, they got introduced to dangerous ideologies that advocate for inhuman acts with no pay at all.
Peer pressure, a lack -of identity, low self-esteem, and the desire to belong are other factors that have seen youth including those in schools and higher learning institutions being easily lured into violent extremism.
The sooner we address these factors contributing to radicalization the better for us and the future of our country. Investing in the youth through establishing mentorship programs and training programs that will enable youth to acquire technical skills suitable for the job market and employment creation can be a way out to save the youth from getting exposed to radicalizing influences.