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Evaluation of the Peer to Peer (P2P) Challenging Extremism Initiative
Findings and methodology are reported for an evaluation of interventions developed as part of the Peer to Peer (P2P) Challenging Extremism Initiative, whose goals were to educate youth on violent extremism, improve acceptance and tolerance of ethno-cultural groups different from their own, and improve youths' ability to discredit and confront messages that violent extremists promote.
The evaluation had the following objectives: 1) Assess the content and dissemination of the P2P Initiative social media products; 2) Assess the impact of the P2P Initiative on youth engaged in its development; 3) assess the impact of youths' exposure to the P2P educational activities; and 4) Identify the drivers of success and barriers in the implementation of the initiative. The evaluation methodology involved an analysis of P2P products, interviews with faculty members and students involved with the development and implementation of the P2P Initiative, and surveys of youth exposed and unexposed to the P2P Initiative. In drawing implications for criminal justice policy and practice, the evaluation advises that initiatives intended to improve tolerance toward diversity should be integrated into the school curriculum in order to be sustainable and effective. The best way to engage youth in such initiatives is to use mixed approaches that integrate in-person educational activities with the use of social media. The educational component should focus on knowledge of cultural and institutional racism. Online behavioral initiatives should focus on empowering girls to protect themselves from the manipulation of online predators. It is also important to develop mechanisms for youth to report when and where they are exposed to hate speech against themselves or others.