Taking Responsibility

The concept of responsibility is the central aspect of the work of Violence Prevention Network. The call to take responsibility for your own actions, however, is not only aimed at the young people Violence Prevention Network has been working with for more than ten years. Rather, it is a broader call for action that equally addresses parents and teachers and the disseminators in the police force and in the justice system, and above all and emphatically policy makers. The taking of individual and social responsibility is a central element without which a society is unable to exist within the framework of democratic and pluralistic structures. Without responsibility there is no self-determination, and without self-determination there is no personal freedom. In the long run, a society whose individual members and political representatives are not able to take responsibility will encourage ideas and ideologies which it sooner or later will lose control over.

Breaking away from hate and violence

Violence Prevention Network began its work at a time when ideologically motivated violence became increasingly more prevalent. Burning asylum seeker homes and murdered takeaway owners cannot be tolerated. Neither can bombs at railway stations or young people leaving for Syria as holy warriors. Hatred coupled with violence, radicalisation and extremism are phenomena that have been with us for years. They are a threat to each one of us and to society as a whole. They shake the very foundations of democracy and pluralism, as they seek to force us into a one-dimensional world which the majority of people object to. We must guard against hatred and violence wherever we can and challenge them where they arise. We must not tire of defending ourselves against ideologies that seek to take away the achievements we have made over the past 70 years in the name of a falsely interpreted religion or an inhumane worldview.

Talking to extremists

The trainers at Violence Prevention Network talk to the offenders. To curtail hatred and violence, radicalisation and extremism in the long term, it is absolutely essential to talk to the people who are violent in the name of a religion or an ideology. If we want to tackle the phenomenon of extremist violence, the protagonists must not be ignored. You regularly hear calls to “lock them up” as soon as a particular case of hate crime is uncovered, especially when authoritarian demonstration of power is mistaken for political responsibility. But a humanist approach comes with responsibility. Every individual can change his or her behaviour if he or she learns the necessary skills: the ability to maintain relationships, empathy, a sense of responsibility and self-reflection. This attitude contains within it the clear and unambiguous rejection of violence and at the same time the unconditional recognition of the human dignity of the perpetrators, without making light of their actions or of the suffering of their victims. This attitude is our responsibility.

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