Poverty, Lack of Purpose may Push Syrian Boys to Extremism, Study Finds

The boys don't necessarily believe the radical ideas of the groups they join.

Many Syrian boys and young men may be pushed into extremism because they need to make a living, are missing a sense of purpose and because they want to avenge the death of loved ones, according to a new study by International Alert, an NGO that advises governments, organizations and companies on how to support peace.

"ISIS promises that you are going to be part of this new project of building a state and that you will be part of a family," Rebecca Crozier, head of International Alert’s Middle East and North Africa program, told ABC News. She said their ideology promises, "There’s no corruption here and everybody has a voice."

"That is very attractive to someone living in a society where they don’t have a voice and where they feel like they have no prospect and future," she added.

Boys and young men between the ages of 12 and 24 are most at risk of joining extremist groups, along with displaced persons and refugees without supportive family, according to the study which surveyed 311 young Syrians, their families and community members in Syria, Lebanon and Turkey.

"I feel like a loser who has given up on his dreams,” one young Syrian man in Lebanon told International Alert, the report states. "I’m dead here as much as I’m dead there. I’d prefer to die in Syria."

The report also shows that the collapse of the education system in Syria, with some two million children out of school, has made young people much more likely to join violent, extremist groups.