Swedish social workers lack strategy to deal with radicalized youths – govt survey

© Ali Jasim
Social workers in Sweden have been revealed to lack a solid strategy to deal with the radicalization of young people in the country, according to a government survey.

Researchers from the government surveyed social workers in 220 municipalities and cities across Sweden. Of those, they identified 39 locations where staff said they had been working with young people at risk of or already turning to extremism. In 25 locations, children under the age of 18 were included in that group.

However, staff working in 31 of the 39 affected areas said they did not have a strategy for providing support to teens who want to distance themselves from radical friends or gangs.

"I think that there is still considerable uncertainty over how to handle these cases," Ann Jönsson, one of the study's lead researchers, told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.

Officials in the city of Gothenburg, which was previously identified as one of the key Swedish areas where religious radicalization is on the rise, said it is working to tackle the issue, but admitted that doing so is a big challenge.

"Over the past six months we have had an increase in cases where anxious relatives are contacting us," said Sven-Johan Dahl, a spokesperson for the city’s social services.

He went on to state that the issue is a relatively new one, as it was “almost completely unknown a year ago.”

“There is no 'copy paste' [solution], rather it requires almost a new approach each time because each case is about individuals,” Dahl said.

The full findings of the study are scheduled to be presented to Sweden's Social Democrat-Green government in May.

The report by the National Board of Health and Welfare comes after Sweden's intelligence service Säpo stated in October that around 300 people have left Sweden since 2013 to join jihadists groups in the Middle East. It said that at the time that around 135 of those had returned to Swedish soil, and referred to returning fighters as among the biggest threats to Swedes.