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The Roles of Trauma and Mental Health in Preventing Domestic Radicalization and Violent Extremism

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2024
Publication Series

This article discusses three studies that were funded by the National Institute of Justice; it illustrates how there is no single pathway to violent extremism, and trauma and mental health issues are insufficient and not required in order to explain domestic radicalization and violent extremism; it also discusses implications for policy and programming.


The authors discuss the challenges of preventing domestic radicalization and violent extremism and focus on three articles that examine the factors that play a role in a person’s turn toward radicalization and violence. Through this paper, the authors seek to promote understanding that allows policymakers to address the complexity of trauma exposure and mental health issues relative to domestic radicalization and violent extremism. The authors discuss three research studies that examine pathways to and away from violent extremism, and illustrate how trauma and mental health issues are neither necessary nor sufficient to explain domestic radicalization and violent extremism; they also note that when present, trauma and mental health issues can have a significant but varied impact across the violence prevention spectrum. To conclude, the authors describe several ways to expand core trauma-informed practices so they apply to violent extremism prevention.

Date Published: April 1, 2024