MARCH 2016
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Countering Violent Extremism
FBI Launches New Awareness Program for Teens

By Dave Couvertier, Special Agent
Public Affairs Officer
FBI - Tampa Field Office Spokesman

Today like never before, violent extremists of all kinds are deliberately targeting our nation’s young people with poisonous propaganda — especially in cyberspace, where they are flooding social media with slick recruiting videos and persuasive calls to action. The FBI’s investigations and analysis indicate that these efforts — to a disturbing degree — are succeeding. Across America, there are young people who are embracing various forms of violent extremism, actively communicating with violent extremists, and helping with recruitment.

In this hyper-connected world, where violent extremist information is only a click away, it’s more crucial than ever that young people learn what violent extremism is, how it hurts innocent victims and perpetuates violence, and how its recruiting strategies are intended to deceive.

As part of its leading role in helping to prevent terrorist attacks and in sharing its expertise on public safety issues, the FBI has launched a new, free program for teens nationwide. It’s called “Don’t Be a Puppet: Pull Back the Curtain on Violent Extremism,” and the centerpiece is an interactive website at that uses activities, quizzes, videos and other materials to teach teens how to recognize violent extremist messaging and become more resistant to self-radicalization and possible recruitment.

The site doesn’t refute violent extremist beliefs point by point or discuss matters of faith or politics. Instead, it makes teens aware of the destructive reality of various forms of violent extremism, including hateful attacks based on race, religion or other factors. Through its theme, “Don’t Be a Puppet,” the program encourages teens to think for themselves and display a healthy skepticism if they come across anyone who appears to be advocating extremist violence.

The “Don’t Be a Puppet” initiative was developed through the combined efforts of the FBI Office of Public Affairs (OPA) and the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Program in the Bureau’s Office of Partner Engagement, with the input and support of other FBI components. A number of community leaders, government and law enforcement officials, high school teens, and other public and private partners from across the U.S. evaluated the site and provided valuable feedback. The consensus was that the program is a positive, proactive tool that addresses a serious threat.

The website is divided into five main sections, each with various activities and elements to complete a sixth “Where to Get Help” page offers conflict resolution tips, identifies resources to contact for assistance, and provides links to more information. Teens receive a printable certificate upon completion of the site. The program is open to anyone in the United States who wishes to participate, but it is designed for a teenage audience. No registration is required to sign up for or use the website.

The Bureau also recommends that community groups, resource officers, coaches, school administrators, and parents and families review the site and use it to raise awareness of violent extremism and its growing impact on our nation. It’s the FBI’s hope that this new initiative can make a difference in helping to keep young people from being radicalized and recruited, now and in the future.

To learn more, visit

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