The article, ‘For Families of Radicalizing U.S. Youth, a Helpline‘ touches on the story of Parents for Peace founder Melvin Bledsoe and why he was motivated to find a way to assist others struggling to reach loved ones being drawn into extremism. His own family’s experience, as they watched Carlos slip away from them, was one of isolation. He tells the reporter:
“I didn’t have any help. I didn’t have no one to turn to, no one to lean on but my other family members.
Out of the pain of this experience grew the desire to make a difference:
Bledsoe, hoping to give parents in similar situations and fearful of calling the police more options than he had, founded the nonprofit Parents for Peace and launched what it bills as the first citizen-run U.S. telephone help line to counter the ideologies that lead to violent extremism.
Carole Mansfield, whose granddaughter Nicole died in Syria in 2013, has also found solace in trying to serve others:
“I’m battling cancer and I just hope and pray that I can live long enough to help at least one family save their loved one,” Mansfield said in a recent phone interview. “That’s the mission that I have in my life.”
Parents for Peace staff Myriam Nadri and David Phillippi were also interviewed about the helpline. They made clear that it is available to callers struggling to deal with any form of extremism:
The Parents for Peace help line – +1-844-49-PEACE (+1-844-487-3223) – models itself on suicide help lines and other groups addressing such issues, and is open not only to those dealing with militant Islamist ideologies but also white supremacist and other radicalizations.
“It should be about any extremist,” [Bledsoe] said. “Parents for Peace is willing to talk to anyone who feels there is a threat.”
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