Alcohol, Offending and Deprivation – A study

Currently I’m working on behalf of Mentor UK and in partnership with Alcohol Concern and Middlesex University to undertake research into young people’s experience of the youth justice system.  But why?  Having read some research by the DfE (pre coalition but not by much), there is an inextricable link between negative lived experiences at school, early onset (unhealthy) alcohol misuse and consequently an increased likelihood of offending.

It’s not quite that simple however, a number of other factors influence behaviour and outcomes and primary among those are socio-economic status, gender, race and spiritual/faith beliefs.

In short if you are white, working class, have no faith, live in a deprived area and have been bullied at school you are more likely to misuse alcohol at an early age.  Furthermore you are likely to leave school with little or no qualifications and consequently find yourself with diminished chances of entering further education, training or meaningful work. And; get yourself into trouble. Is that right?

We are intending to find out.  No research has been done in this area that we can find but we’re going to have a look and share it.  We’ll be working with a number of YOT’s from across London and interviewing 50 young people involved in the youth justice system to better understand their experience.  We’ll be undertaking 1 2 1 interviews, focus groups and workshops.

What are the likely outcomes?  A key one for us is that it’s possible that better interventions ‘upstream’ while at school may have a longer term impact in unhealthy alcohol misuse and related offending.  How do we ask questions?, How do we empathise?, How do we enter into young people’s lives in a way that helps them to make sense of the world and build their skills to manage the challenges it presents?  How do we build their coping skills?

We’re hoping that young people themselves will tell us.  And in September this year we’ll be holding a symposium with the University of Middlesex to share our findings.

If you’d like to find out more and have a closer look you can do so here:  http://tinyurl.com/d43wx7w

And please do feel free to get in touch with Si Claridge either at simon.claridge@mentoruk.org or simongclaridge@gmail.com

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2 Responses to Alcohol, Offending and Deprivation – A study

  1. Hi Simon,
    That sounds like some very interesting work you’re doing. I’ll be interesting to see how it progresses. In particular as it relates to alcohol – I’d love to know how you are defining alcohol abuse? Obviously there are many different levels of alcohol (mis)use, and it tends to be the higher socio-economic group that are involved more heavily in binge drinking and other such heavy risky-drinking/social behaviours, so it’ll be interesting to see how that lines up with the high levels of alcohol abuse that you are noting in lower socio-economic groups, and the role alcohol plays within youth in the justice system.
    Good luck and I look forward to hearing more as it progresses. 🙂
    Cheers,
    Anna.

    • Si says:

      Anna, thanks very much for the comments. You’re right in many ways about drinking patterns. We are interested in whether or not alcohol was an antecedent to offending but also what was that young person’s experience of school. Indeed young people drink less now than they did 10 years ago, but those that do drink more. Equally you are right, there’s an issue about affordability, those that can’t afford tend to drink less. We are interested in all these factors and are not making any assumptions. So, we’re fortunate to have been funded to have a look at the issue in more detail, and hopefully the outcome will be that some better interventions can be made earlier. I’ll definitely keep you updated on how things progress.
      Best wishes,
      Si

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