The role of fathers has hardly been explored or perceived in the current security debate until now. What are their perspectives and how do they deal with the fear that their children could be radicalised and follow the temptation of recruiters? Do they deal with current threats differently than mothers? How is their relationship with their children and what are their communication patterns and crisis management strategies? Following a successful pilot phase at the two Lower Franconian locations Aschaffenburg and Erlenbach am Main, the prevention project continued into the second round in 2020/2021, reaching a total of 60 fathers across four FatherSchools groups.
With the FatherSchools, Women without Borders (WwB) developed new security concepts that are embedded in families and provide individual families with a broad set of tools for action. Since there is not yet much sound knowledge in this area, this project takes an innovative path and follows a family-centred approach in which fathers and mothers are actively involved in prevention work. The focus of the FatherSchools roll-out is on teaching on the topics of parenting, communication in the family, prevention, and the recognition of early warning signs of radicalisation.
Between 2019-2020, WwB began a FatherSchools pilot phase in Germany. They convened four groups, two each in Aschaffenburg and Erlenbach am Main. The participants of the pilot project repeatedly expressed the wish for further roll-outs. Through the first two groups a process was set in motion that has made it possible to address and deal with particularly sensitive issues, such as extremism and violence, in a meaningful and effective way. Thus, following this success, FatherSchools continued in Germany with a second iteration in the same locations between 2020-2021. The following sections outline further details of the implementation of FatherSchools in Germany.
FatherSchools Germany | 2020-2021
The second round of FatherSchools in Germany continued in the Lower Franconian locations Aschaffenburg and Erlenbach am Main between 2020 and 2021. Four groups of fathers graduated from the programme in December 2021. The Graduation Ceremony in Erlenbach am Main took place publicly in the presence of the mayor of Elsenfeld, while in Aschaffenburg the certificates were presented in individual appointments due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Bavaria’s State Minister for Family, Labour and Social Affairs and Women without Borders sent greetings via video.
FatherSchools Germany | 2019-2020
The pilot project of the FatherSchools in Aschaffenburg and Erlenbach am Main, which ended in October 2020, showed how important prevention projects are for fathers as well. The FatherSchools aim to bring to the forefront the potential of fathers in raising and protecting their children from radicalisation and to encourage fathers to rise to the challenge. They are often caught between role constraints and myths of masculinity, between traditional parenting patterns and demands they cannot always meet. The FatherSchools represent an offer to actively address personal and family questions about raising children, through discussions, theoretical input, and interactive exercises.
The aim of the FatherSchools is to highlight the male side of concerns in the area of radicalisation, to respond directly to this with a preventive family-centred approach and to raise awareness of radicalisation prevention among a larger number of fathers through the implementation of two groups per location.