Generally analyzed through the lenses of “radicalization” or “violent extremism”, dynamics of young people engaged in new forms of violence is the focus of growing international scrutiny, especially in West Africa. However, as this interest grows, we realize that our current understanding does not allow us to fully grasp the phenomenon’s complexity. Furthermore, young people are rarely associated to this analysis and even less so to the solutions developed. Therefore, the solutions proposed can only be partial or ineffective. A Participatory Research led by Interpeace, together with its partners IMRAP and Indigo Côte d’Ivoire, supported by UNICEF, describes how societies and dynamics surrounding young people in Mali and Côte d’Ivoire structure the trajectories of some of the latter towards violence. Ideology (namely religious) appears less like a decisive motivation, but rather as legitimation discourse posteriori. Likewise, unemployment and greed, although they remain of importance, are not pivotal. They are rather illustrative elements of youth’s need to find their place in their society, to be recognized, valued and to feel like they are contributing.