Leading practitioners gathered at UCB for frank debate about youth violence and gangs.
The second annual ‘Responding to Youth Violence’ conference brought influential academics and community workers together, including keynote speaker Raymond Douglas, described as one of the UK’s leading ‘thinkers and doers’ on reducing gang violence.
In a hard-hitting address, he asked delegates to consider the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; ranging from nightmares and flashbacks to depression. He said the same symptoms were felt by young people involved in gang violence, and called for a new diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Streets Disorder.
He urged colleagues to act on the array of research which surrounds youth violence in order to bring about change. His own project ‘Anti-Youth Violence’ has reached more than 10,000 young people through motivational workshops.
He said: “Plenty of research is carried out across the country, but where’s the development? How many people have their Local Authority Gang Strategy saved on their desktop, or a social media strategy specifically aimed at young people?
“If we don’t evolve, we will be irrelevant. Courage means we have to start talking truth to those in power.”
The conference was run in conjunction with EUGANGS, a Europe-wide initiative which develops the knowledge of professionals working with gang culture.
Delegates were invited to a series of workshops tackling tough issues. They included child exploitation, extremism, and the effect of social media and music videos on youth violence.
Craig Pinkney, UCB lecturer and urban youth specialist, spoke passionately about getting to the root of youth violence. He said: “Although we are losing lives, although we are attending the funerals of our young people, although all these things are taking place, we are doing some brilliant work and it’s important we publicise that.
“We are all soldiers, all fighting for one cause: to preserve the life of young people.”
More than 100 delegates attended the event at UCB’s award-winning McIntyre House. Dr Sangeeta Soni, UCB’s Assistant Dean of Education, Health and Community, was delighted to welcome them all. She said: “That so many people have attended this event is brilliant, and will result in wider dialogue being shared. It’s also been a great opportunity for our community of practitioners to plan, lead and develop workshops.”