Giving voice to 'youth of today'Anneke Evenepoel
, Jenneke Christiaens
, 2013, original scientific article
The aim of this article is to present findings on a study into the field of prevention of youth crime and deviance in Belgium. This research took place within the framework of a European study YouPrev that involved six European countries.
On one hand, a school survey was conducted with youngsters aged between 14 and 17 years in three regions: an urban, a semi-rural/urban and a rural area. Based on the new ISRD-3, in addition to classic self-report questions, the instrument also focused on young people’s views and perceptions regarding practices and initiatives aimed at preventing youth delinquency. To enhance the richness of these results, group discussions and interviews with youngsters were organised in the same regions, addressing the same topic.
The major finding was that the youngsters that participated in the study do not seem to be part of classical prevention target groups. They attach great importance to informal actors in controlling and preventing youth crime (while formal actors like police, social work and prevention services are the main professions involved in Belgium). When it comes to their possible deviant behaviour, the survey pointed out that the majority appear not to use alcohol and drugs in a problematic way, and they don’t seem to have much contact with police or other legal actors. Furthermore, the respondents have very limited experience with and knowledge about prevention activities in their area, not only about secondary and tertiary but also general prevention initiatives. This could imply that the ‘best’ prevention is the activity that is not brought forward and perceived as such, a new hypothesis that would be interesting for further research.
Research Limitations / Implications:
Conducting research in the field of prevention should move beyond the school and more into the field of prevention practices, from different epistemological perspectives. This implies that the actual target groups of these practices should be included and be given a voice. If we want to find out more about ‘best practices’ in the prevention of youth crime, it is essential to question the views and perspectives of youngsters who were actually involved in prevention projects.
To take into account the views of the target groups in the study of the field of youth crime prevention may open up new, and maybe very different, directions for policy and practice on how to approach and react to youth delinquency and deviance. In an European Study regarding the prevention of youth deviance and violence (“YouPrev: Youth deviance and youth violence: A European multi-agency perspective on best practices in prevention and control”), Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain have conducted surveys among 13 to 17 year old students. Based on the new ISRD-3 instrument, in addition to the classic selfreport questions, the survey also focused on their perceptions and views regarding practices and initiatives aimed at preventing youth delinquency. In this article, we will present the results collected in Belgium. The aim is to stimulate reflection and contribute to the international discussion regarding a very popular topic today by adding the perspective of the seemingly ‘unpopular’ key players.
Keywords: prevention, youth crime, young people’s perspective, Belgium
Published: 23.04.2020; Views: 314; Downloads: 11
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