How can outreach workers respond meaningfully to youth violence?

How can outreach workers respond
meaningfully to youth violence?
Young people can be…
Violence can be…
 Physical – the use of physical force, knives, guns, sexual
attack, fights
Psychological – verbal threats, bullying, intimidation,
humiliation, ridicule, stalking, ostracising
Material – inflicting damage on property or other
inanimate objects
Structural/state – the systematic failure of the state to
provide for the basic needs of individuals, or harsh or
discriminatory treatment at the hands of the state
Symbolic – the control and use of symbols, discourse,
images, meaning and geographical space to oppress and
Our model of meaningful responses (Harris and
Seal, 2014)
The balancing act…..
Responding at the P level
Working through our relationships to find alternative means of meeting
young people’s needs – belonging, identity, loyalty, respect, security,
excitement, status, money….
Moving from ‘collusion with neutralisation’ to ‘constructive
Acting as a ‘container’ for projections and ‘recognising subjectivity’
Facilitating ‘street divorce’ and ‘knifing off’ through ‘redemptive
scripts’ into ‘generativity’
Identification - the worker as a ‘blueprint self’ to create a new
‘replacement self’
Working through ‘epiphanies’ and improvising through ‘teachable
Responding at the C level
Long term, embedded community work - not ‘chasing violence’ but
‘targeting through universalism’
Engaging with peer groups, families and the community as generators and
mediators of a violent ‘habitus’
Challenging ‘crab mentality’
Improvising to interrupt and deter violence in/between communities
Facilitating group activities/events that develop community self-efficacy
and self-belief, intergenerational and intercultural community
cohesion – building ‘bonding’ and ‘bridging’ capital
Utilising the ‘leverage’ of ‘home-grown’ workers
Engaging with geography - local planning processes and ‘mapping’
Responding at the S level
Challenging (not colluding with) direct state violence e.g.
police brutality, harassment and racism
Exposing symbolic violence – surveillance
Asserting rights of young people to be in public space
Helping young people to ‘become the media’ and create
‘counter narratives’, making the invisible-visible
Political action and education to facilitate legitimate
expression of grievance
Responding at the E level
 Learned helplessness and hopelessness
 ‘Live for today’, nihilism and spiritual deficit
 Being there during epiphanies and existential crises
 Asserting personhood of the ‘other’
 Encouraging real not notional apprehension
 Recognising the limits of dispassionate
professionalism and the value of passion
 Encouraging the search for transcendence, meaning
and purpose. What is valuable and enduring in life?
Responding meaningfully to intersectionality
‘Hyper-masculinity’ - ‘empowering to dis-empower’?
‘Late modernity’ – de-centred, multiple identities –
recognising oppression but not essentialising
Young women as perpetrators and victims of sexual
Disrupting their embodied and linguistic investment
in patriarchal discourses - the “baby mother” – the
Taking father absence seriously within communities
without stigmatising?
Intersectional Interventions that ‘mix it up’?
Themed responses: Sport
‘Hooks for change’ with ‘currency’
Sport –
 Street based boxing – ‘fair play’ football
 Incapacitation
 Mirror of social contract and as an alternative ‘community of
practice’ – new role models
 Sublimation and cathartic release of aggression
 Playing with the “moment of escalation”
 The “strength to walk away” or just fitter gangsters?
 “Never on its own” – value communication by reflexive workers
 Art, music, film, drama, photography
 Composition, performances and
recording as a vehicle for building
reflexivity and counter narratives
 The “outdoors”
 Getting away and into new, natural environments
 Challenging, pro-social activities
 Travel and exchange
Outreach youth work “tales”
• No conceptual clarity when working with ‘respect’
and ‘trust’
The ‘cult of personality’
Un-reflexive complicity
Not knowing when to ‘inhabit’ and when to ‘shake
up’ subjective life-worlds
Failiure to recognise existential deficits
Problematic worker identities
• The ‘too-wounded’ healer – projecting their own
‘baggage’ and unable to contain that of others
The colluder – unwilling to risk relationships and issue
a challenge
The rhetorical radical - inertia owing to a wholly
structural analysis and determinism
The pathologiser - working exclusively at ‘P’ level, not
challenging structural violence
The evangeliser - indoctrinating and converting
The evangelical materialist – refusing to
acknowledge existential deficits
Back to our model

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