News & events


Psychologists: Refuse to Participate in CVE Programs

The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have an approach to what they call “partnering” with communities that purports to help prevent youth from engaging in terrorism, and they want psychologists and other mental health professionals to help implement it. This approach is currently implemented only with Muslim communities, in spite of the long history of well-documented violent extremism on the part of non-Muslims. - Psychology Today, 28 March 2018

The actual partnering between paid law enforcement and various paid service providers runs the risk of failing, and even harming, unpaid members of the partner community. Programs using this approach—under the international umbrella of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), and similar to the “Prevent” program in the UK, often have catchy names featuring appealing words like “resilience,” and “engagement.” But it is misguided, scientifically invalid, and potentially—and in some cases actually--harmful.

It is misguided in that it targets Muslims, adding to the false perception that one should be wary of anyone who is Muslim. It is also misguided because it fails to put a firewall between service provision and law enforcement, leaving providers in an ethical quandary around confidentiality. It is scientifically invalid, because social science has never been able to accurately predict, in advance, which youth will become violent, and the so-called scientific results asserting that they are doing that do not hold up to scrutiny.

The idea of prediction is false both in the erroneous assertion that it is scientifically valid, and false in asserting that the programs rely on real science. In fact, the programs rely on unsubstantiated hypotheses. Researchers, in their scientific papers, consistently acknowledge that no one really knows how to predict who will engage in violence due to an extremist perspective.

Read the full article here.