New research with young people on their experiences and perceptions of violence
A new research document has been published which explores how young people from across the Thames Valley have experienced violence, their perceptions as to its causes and the risk and protective factors which must be addressed.
Claremont Communications, an expert agency in behavioural change communications and research techniques was commissioned by the Violence Reduction Unit to undertake the project during 2022.
The report has been provided to all Thames Valley partners and stands as an additional qualitative evidence base to help inform both the work of the VRU and the approaches being taken by local partnerships and organisations.
Their report has highlighted the following key findings:
- Young people often had only limited direct personal experience of violence. However, their perception was that violence and knife crime was present around them and that the risks are very real.
- Many stated that they believe it is the perception of the risks and a need for self-defence that leads to young people carrying a weapon, while they may have no intent to use it in a wider crime.
A key part of the research was to explore what young people felt were the key risk factors and protective measures to violence. Common themes from the discussions included:
- These are my people…. a sense of a need for identity, belonging and being part of something. Whether that is family, friends, or supportive groups. They highlighted the importance of role models, supportive friends and family.
- A physical place to belong… safe spaces, places to physically be, to hang out with friends, but also places where they are emotionally able to be safe. They highlighted the importance of facilities and places to be.
- Emotional maturity…. young people themselves recognised the importance of staying calm, of having the maturity and self-awareness as to how they can manage their emotions and behaviours.
- Drugs and violence come as a package… young people clearly recognised the link between drugs, alcohol and substance misuse with violence. Both as a driver and also as it creates vulnerabilities.
- Money… a sense that crime and violence can be a route to obtaining money, or that poverty is a driver to violence
During the summer and autumn of 2022, Claremont undertook a number of structured focus groups working with around 50 young people aged between 11 – 18 from across eight different youth services. Youth workers and other practitioners were also interviewed.
The groups were run in partnership with local voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations who are already working through established activities to engage and support young people from a wide range of backgrounds and where there is some need for support.
- Berkshire Youth – which ran sessions from their new facility at the Waterside Centre in Newbury
- Together As One in Slough
- Starting Point in Reading
- GrassRootz in Reading
- AltProv at the Wayz project in Bracknell
- EMBS Community College – Oxford
- Oxfordshire Youth
- SOFEA – Milton Keynes
- YMCA – Milton Keynes (Hospital Navigator intervention programme)
The report – “Violence in the Thames Valley” – now provides a further qualitative evidence base to inform the work of the VRU and all local partnerships and is available to download in full below: