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Edit Schlaffer develops the powerful potential of mothers in preventing radicalization within their families and in becoming ambassadors for de-radicalization in their communities. Understanding the strong connection between environmental factors, adolescent development and radicalization, Edit Schlaffer developed the MotherSchool model. MotherSchools create a transformational experience for mothers by providing a save space where self-awareness, self-expression and self-empowerment are appreciated and encouraged. In a playful and highly interactive way, mothers learn about parenting, adolescent development and early warning signals of radicalization.
Frontline communities and families in extremism hotspots are often confronted with an environment characterized by discrimination, socio-economic inequality and violence. In this situation, many adolescents become vulnerable to radicalization and extremist recruitment.
The feedback from mothers shows that the experience and learnings from the MotherSchool translate very fast into real transformations of communication patterns in families that are also noticed by fathers and children. A communication that is more open, emphatic and dialogue-oriented encourages family members to share their experiences and feelings instead of concealing them. A successful change in communication patterns may trigger changes in gender roles and hierarchic family structures. As a result, mothers gain more access to their children’s thinking and development. They are in a position to respond to early warning signals of radicalization and to provide support to their children.
Through trusted community leaders and NGOs, she approaches mothers who are concerned about violent extremism with regard to the safety of their children and their community. MotherSchools create a transformational experience for mothers by providing a save space where self-awareness, self-expression and self-empowerment are appreciated and encouraged. In a playful and highly interactive way, mothers learn about parenting, adolescent development and early warning signals of radicalization. This combination of personal transformation and increased capacity for action enables mothers to play a more influential and responsible role in their families, to change the communication with their children, and to become ambassadors for de-radicalization in their communities.
“I envision the MotherSchool Model becoming an integral part of all international and local counter violent extremism strategies, spreading to every community targeted by terrorism and building a united front of prepared family members well-equipped to tackle the growing problem of violent extremism on the homefront. I envision MotherSchools as the basis of a new, innovative security paradigm where prevention is prioritized, effective and efficient.” Edit Schlaffer
Edit Schlaffer started to work as a sociologist in the 1970ies when the women’s movement had its momentum. She soon found herself in the middle of this movement that was challenging different forms of discrimination against women in society, be it at home, in education or at work. When Edit Schlaffer started to implement the first trainings on security issues, she noticed that in the framework of conventional security concepts, women were usually assigned the role of victims rather than active and empowered contributors. This insight became the foundation of her refined mission to empower women to become active contributors in the security arena and finally led to the design of the MotherSchool model.