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Youth Violence Commission report launches with the voices of young people at its heart

Dr Keir Irwin-Rogers

“Young people have potential, no matter who they are, what they do or what they look like. We are bright young people.”

Anyone in any doubt about the veracity of this quote that appears on the front page of the Youth Violence Commission report had only to attend the launch event #TheFinalWord last week.

Held online and produced by the young people leading the response to the commission’s work, this inspiring two-hour, live event was filled with searing honesty, eloquence, passion and, importantly, hope for the future.

The report, led by FASS academic Dr Keir Irwin-Rogers, OU Lecturer in Criminology, calls for long-term, sustained financial support for the UK’s 18 Violence Reduction Units (VRUs). It presents evidence of the causes of violence between young people, and examines the history of these young people, highlighting the trauma that has so often formed the basis for the ‘normalisation’ of violence.

In it, Keir and his co-authors Abhinay Muthoo of the University of Warwick and Luke Billingham of Hackney Quest Community Centre examine the issues with school exclusions; the creation of a fast-track pipeline to prison; and make a clear case for the need for a less punitive approach to supporting children, young people and families living in situations that often lead to violence.

Presenters highlighted the need to hold institutions to account, to work collaboratively with grass-roots organisations, and to demonstrate cultural competency. They called for an ethic of care to exist throughout our schools for every pupil and demonstrated the difference apparent when a pupil is treated with respect and positive reinforcement rather than the ‘dehumanising’ effect of exclusion.

Crucially, they demonstrated the part that we all have to play:

“Change society and improve the lives of millions of people.”

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