Young men’s experiences of violence and crime in a society emerging from conflict

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Abstract

Previous studies have consistently established young men’s over representation in the criminal justice system particularly in relation to interpersonal violence. Despite this, the voice of young men are seldom heard, reducing our understanding of young men’s experience of crime and violence. As Northern Ireland emerged from the longest conflict in contemporary European history following the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, a new generation of young men have grown up in a society with a reconstituted police force, sustained paramilitary ceasefires and increased community cohesion. In 2018, 32 young men aged between 16 and 20 from across Northern Ireland engaged in focus groups exploring their perceptions of crime and violence growing up since 1998. The study found that paramilitaries are still present but the extent to which they are active differs greatly between communities; young men’s literacy around crime in general is limited; issues of personal safety are critical but they do not always develop the necessary skills to avoid violence until later in adolescence; and contact with the police is generally perceived as negative. It is recommended that young men have spaces to reflect on their attitudes and beliefs, develop skills to avoid violence and professionals are trained to engage young men more effectively.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Early online date27 Jun 2026
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted - 17 Jun 2019

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