Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man

That was the Jesuit motto, alleged to be attributed to Francis Xavier, the co-founder of the Jesuit Order. The implication is that the best opportunity to indoctrinate a person in a lifetime of belief and devotion to religious dogma is when they are young.

The Christian Science Monitor ran a story a few days ago that alleges “terrorism experts say radical groups are targeting teenagers as young as 14.”

“As I speak, terrorists are methodically and intentionally targeting young people and children in [Morocco]. They are radicalizing, indoctrinating, and grooming young, vulnerable people to carry out acts of terrorism,” said Jonathan Evans, the director general of the British MI5, the security service, in November.

He warned that teenagers as young as 15 and 16 have been implicated in “terrorist-related” activities as a result of a deliberate strategy pursued by radical Islamist groups.

I’ve seen first hand the affect that indoctrination into street-gang culture can have on adolescents -and they start getting this indoctrination in some large cities at a very early age. Kids in this predicament are generally from low-income, single-mother households and are usually desperate for authority figures that they can put their trust and loyalty in.

I wonder how the uncertainty and economic strain of chaotic nations in the Middle East affect adolescents there? Could it be any different? Could being raised in a war-torn nation, a theocratic nation, or one in which the only existence you’ve ever known is that of occupation by an oppressing and repressive authority affect your psychological well-being?

Then again, are the young participants of indoctrination camps like the Jesus Camp or the well-to-do students of Mullahs at any less risk of being indoctrinated into a cult of hatred?

About Ylooshi

An anthropologist who is an atheist. My blog at concerns itself with breaking the spells of superstition and religious belief through examining human superstitions and religions scientifically and rationally. Breaking Spells, the blog, also focuses on atheist and secular concerns such as the separation of church and state as well as the negative influences of Islamo-Judeo-Christian religious cults on society.
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