Youth violence by Shaheem Carty


This blog argues that youth violence stems from poverty. Poverty leads to young people going down the wrong path to make a living, and a lot of the time in order to protect their income it leads to violence. This also leads to the people involved in these crimes to protect territory which is what the media call “Postcode wars”. Then before you know it the younger generation which comes in under the first set of people are involved because they’re affected by poverty and inequality the same way the first generation is. The problem of violence is one we see all over the globe, but something all the places have in common is that there is inequality and poverty in the neighbourhoods where violence occurs. 

There are also cases where an altercation can occur over small disagreements, something that leads to two sets of young people having problems for a long duration, however this all stems from lack of opportunities. If more young people were able to set legitimate goals or have jobs and self-employed jobs which they had a real desire to do they would have less 

time and energy to commit crime as they would have more to lose and their mind-sets wouldn’t be in the same space anymore. If England began a public health approach and included strategies for young people to find their passion and pursue it, finding your passion is not simple but once you find it and learn the business the chosen career is there to be conquered. This has the ability to put them in the right direction as their focus has changed from striving illegally to progressing positively by pursuing their passion. Also, being able to speak to a local role model on how they strived for success in their field is also a powerful mechanism to motivate young people. 

Over the years I’ve had a lot of people who went to prison fell in love with the gym then started pursuing a personal training career due to people seeing the change in their body so people tend to ask for advice which motivated a lot of people to make a living from it. I personally know people who had to try new things as part of their course and find that it was something they enjoy and are striving to turn into a career, for example I did sports massage as a module and someone in my class now runs her own business. What this shows is that someone’s passion, when it is supported, can turn into their income, which is something that is not available to a lot of people. 

If this were to happen over a number of years there would be more role models in different fields of work and less people to be negatively influenced by. 

Public Health Approach and VRUs 

In Scotland the VRU decreased their knife crime pandemic drastically, I’m sure stop and search was a big element of this as the murder rate dropped by 60% (Beryl,). I’m sure stop and search was a big element of this as in 2005 police searched just under 50 people out of every 1,000 then in 2010 it increased to 175 people out of 1,000 just Strathclyde (The Washington Post)

Scottish Centre for Crime & Justice Research 2015, however Scotland’s VRU also took a holistic approach as they improved income security, living condition, community wellbeing so young people don’t seek validation from gangs, implementing strategies in school to challenge any potential signs which may lead to gangs for young people. This will be seen as all positive and many people say England should copy Scotland’s exact approach however the dynamics in the cities within England will be very different which means the approach you take much matches the needs of young people in England. 

In England stop and search is very hostile and leads to unnecessary arrest and makes the community lose trust with police because of the way they deal with people in their community. Once police do wrong one time that is enough, it is almost impossible to regain trust again from the community. 

I’ve worked with young people in the midlands and London and a small amount have said “Stop and search is beneficial because if you find a person with that knife it stops him from stabbing someone with that weapon”, however a large amount counter attack that point by 

saying “That young person probably has no trust in police to keep them safe so they have it for protection so they keep it to stay alive.” In my opinion stopping someone with a knife is a good thing, but unless you take a holistic approach and find out why they are carrying it in the first place we will never get to the root of the problem. 

Additionally, another downfall to stop and search is that these powers are used unlawfully by the police . The young person I worked with in Birmingham said that when “unlawful stop and search is used it hinders the young person’s chance of rehabilitating as it is now on their DBS which leads to employers shutting the door quite often which keeps them in the same position or in a position to reoffend”. The young person then said “Police need to be present to stop altercation but a lot of time they’re not there and sometimes if they are there they might be afraid to get involved … they’re just reactors”. He also went on to explain that for the people who witness bad policing it creates a sense of anxiety as they feel they cannot have trust in the professionals who are supposed to keep our community safe. 

I believe it is poverty which leads to lack of opportunities and a small chance of transitioning when you’ve experienced a life of violence and offending plays a very big part in continuing violence. According to City of London (2015) 16.1% of households in London are out of work and Barking and Dagenham and Haringey (both 3.2% respectively) have the highest proportion of Job Seeker’s Allowance. In 2015/16 Barking and Dagenham recorded a 17% increase in violent crime (7,089 offences reported). Research has shown that young people living in poverty suffer from poor mental health several reasons such as feeling less optimistic about having a positive future, it’s suggested that 1 in 5 children living in poverty, compared to 1 in 7 of their more affluent peers (Ayre, 2016). Children in poverty suffer from poor mental health as living in inadequate housing, poor conditions, and parents often paying off debt leaves children feeling as this is the norm and decreases determination to strive for transition. This is why having more opportunities which are achievable and accessible gives young people a sense of fulfilment as it makes them feel a part of the community.

A review of poverty and mental health by the Centre for Social Justice highlights that children and adults from the lowest 20% of household income are three times more likely to have common mental health problems than those in the richest 20%, and nine times as likely to have psychotic disorders. On average of one in five children, 22 percent, were living in poverty before housing costs in England in 2017–18. After taking housing costs into consideration, child poverty rates increased to 30 percent and were higher in areas with high housing costs – for example, child poverty rates were 37 percent in London after housing costs and 19 percent before housing costs (Marmot et al, 2020). Also according to Marmot (2010) concluded that being in good employment is usually protective of health while unemployment, particularly long term unemployment, contributes significantly to poor health. 

This is why the holistic approach taken by the VRU in Scotland was effective as an individual’s problems were tackled from every angle, this means if a young person has goals there is not much outside factors which can reduce your focus. 


Serving time in prison makes prisoners undergo psychological problems as they are forced to adapt to the prison lifestyle. One change which might happen quickly is new prisoners being severely hyper vigilant for their safety as prison can be a very violent environment where violent acts occur at any time, with little chance to report abuse to guards due to the risk of becoming a target. As well as this a lot of past prisoners have spoken about being assaulted by prison guards, meaning the institution is also committing violence against those inside.This trauma has the ability to stay with you even when you are released and you can see this in the way the body reacts to potential dangers. If you’re living in a climate where there is ongoing trauma it can create anxiety, depression, phobias and PTSD. This is due to the fact that violence is capable of occuring at any time in prison which will be new to anybody this is where you can start to suffer from trauma, anxiety and PTSD. 

Depression could be occurring from having to adapt to not having immediate access to family and normal things you as a person do in life. Limited support in prison mixed with isolation can lead to depression and anxiety and this again comes from a sense of loneliness and not feeling part of the community as well as feeling like you have no purpose. 

Charities and Psychology 

Young people in inner city communities are affected by their environment which results in young people handling these factors in different ways. Charities and psychologists being aware of this then work in a holistic way in order to support on many different levels to tackle all these factors such as the young person themselves, family and friends, community level services and society. This idea comes from the ecological systems theory . The Ecological Systems theory states that human development is influenced by the different types of environmental systems. This theory helps us understand why young people may behave differently when we analyse how our behaviour is influenced by our family by school, by work and by the community (Costanza, 2014). 

Community psychology studies someone’s context within communities and the wider society and the relationships between young people and their community and society. A community psychologist will seek to understand the dynamics and quality of life within communities in order to promote improvement. A community psychologist would commonly go into a new community and liaise with them about what resources and support to networks they are capable of providing. Then people within the community will explain what they believe will help them owing to the fact that they are experts by experience. One of the benefits of this is that the two parties will co-produce a solution or service which might help support the young people within the community in aspects of their well-being including career’s or emotional well-being support. 

Being a part of a community is essential as it allows young people to feel like they are part of a community which gives them a sense of belonging which could be a new positive feeling for a vast majority. This also gives them a sense of positive as you empower young people to create social change within their local community. 

Narrative theory is based on the concept of people storytelling. This is used negatively in the media as young people are often portrayed in a negative way, which can be dehumanizing and brainwashing for young people trying to navigate through society. Headlines labelling young people as “Thugs” and a generation who “Lack Hope” as well as stating “A generation that don’t respect their parents” (Morgan and Hall, 2011). These negative statements can all work to influence wider societies’ perceptions of young people. Ideas from narrative theory can also be used in a positive way and this is often done by institutions which work with young people by labelling them positively giving none stop appraisal for good work. This helps young people feel brighter about their future and about themselves. 


As you’ve read, youth violence is very complex. Many factors can aid it, many factors can hinder it for a positive twist on young people’s lives. More people must have a significant understanding of it to support young people as well as being able to support them to be in charge of their own self development positively. 

All these psychological approaches stated above have proven to do very well in inner city communities which have helped various young people transition into positions in life which they consider as better and the wider community will consider as positive. 

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