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