The 10th Respect National Practitioners Seminar took place in London last week.
In the morning we were treated to an excellent presentation from Carlene Firmin on her research into peer on peer abuse. Unlike the other presentations, Carlene’s will not be available on the Respect website as the research is still ongoing, but much of her work can be found on her own website, MsUnderstood. There were many points at which she could have been talking about child to parent violence – so many cross overs. I will have to give this some more thought, but to be going on with:
- Peer on peer abuse straddles many different concepts and fields and so remains hidden.
- The importance and power of friendship groups as young people move into adolescence.
- The offer of parenting programmes because that is what is available rather than making a proper assessment of need.
- The problems that arise when violence becomes normalised.
- Limitations to changing individuals without wider social change.
- Issues around child protection and safeguarding.
The overall tone was optimistic however. As we learn more we have more opportunities to intervene earlier.
Graham Goulden from the Violence Reduction Unit, Scotland, gave a taster in his first presentation on engaging bystanders in violence prevention; and then developed this in a workshop to a smaller group. As with Carlene’s presentation, there was a focus on the need to create safe spaces and trust, so that young people can concentrate on safety rather than status. “Imagine what could be achieved if we could activate the bystander.”
In the afternoon, Latimer Media talked us through their use of young people in digital campaigning to effect mass social change: a completely different angle on engaging young people, and a great way to bring us through the post-lunch slump! The main presentations finished with a panel discussion led by Neil Blacklock on responses to children’s violence to parents, with questions about resource availability, different programmes, involving the police amongst others. For those interested to know more about this there was a workshop led by Julia Worms (RYPP) and Sally Fawcwtt (Do it Different) on two particular successful interventions.
The Respect days are held twice a year, moving around the country and are an excellent opportunity to hear about new ideas and programmes in the field of young people’s violence; always interesting agencies, speakers and workshops.