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Stuck in the Middle: Some Young Men's Attitudes and Experience of Violence, Conflict and Safety (Northern Ireland, 2009)

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Violence has become a daily occurrence for some young men in Northern Ireland, according to a new report launched by the University of Ulster in June 2009.

And one in 10 teenagers admitted regularly carrying weapons, including knives, on the streets.

The report entitled ‘Stuck in the Middle’ was based on the opinions of 130 young men - aged between 13 and 16 - from different areas across Northern Ireland on their experiences of violence, conflict and safety.

‘Stuck in the Middle’ was written by Trefor Lloyd, Director of the London based charity, Working with Men. Over the past six months he has been working as a consultant with the Centre for Young Men’s Studies at the University of Ulster.

Headline findings from the report included:

- 1 in 10 participants said they carried weapons – including knives – regularly

- Sectarianism, ethnicity and geography emerged as important factors in regard to young men’s experience of violence.

- Conflict and violence impacted on their lives on most days and their personal safety was a daily consideration.

- Young men reported conflict and violence as ‘the way it is’ and something that was not out of the ordinary.

Dr Ken Harland, Co-Director of the Centre, said: “Very few of those reading this paper will be surprised by anything these young men said, but what we should be surprised about is that very little seems to have changed in spite of the peace process.

“Too many young men appear to be ‘stuck’ between old and new beliefs and attitudes, inhabiting a ceasefire world, rather than one that is changing with peace.”

The report aims to initiate discussion and debate about the needs of young men and the problems some young men cause within their communities, as well as make tentative suggestions of initiatives and interventions that would increase safety and reduce violence and conflict within communities.

The University’s Centre for Young Men’s Studies – a partnership with local voluntary group, YouthAction Northern Ireland, is behind the survey.

The Centre for Young Men’s Studies is a partnership between the Community Youth Work division at the University of Ulster and YouthAction Northern Ireland. It resides within INCORE (International Centre for Conflict and Peace Studies at the University of Ulster) and the School of Sociology and Applied Social Studies.

The aim of the Centre is to promote a culture of learning, development and excellence in regard to young men living in Northern Ireland through innovative practice, training and action research.

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