Young Men and Violence Prevention

Article excerpt

Australia was a less violent society at the end of the twentieth century than it was at the end of the nineteenth century. Yet, violence is a major part of some people's, notably young men's lives. The office of the Minister for Justice and Customs initiated consultation with a group of young men from around Australia. The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) facilitated this consultation with 22 young men and 10 youth workers in Canberra on 15-16 December 1999 to examine their experience of violence as perpetra tors, victims, or both. This paper begins by outlining issues the young men raised at the consultation. It then proceeds to discuss violence and how it relates to young men, effective means of violence prevention, and promising areas for policy development and program implementation.

The consultation upon which this paper is based found that young men identified relations with police as a problem The young men perceived a need to access anger management courses and recreational and sporting facilities and wished that drugs were less available. The AIC is examining these issues and building them into the work program.

Adam Graycar

Director

An Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) project with young men is focussed on violence and violence prevention. Two days of discussion with a selected group of young men identified a range of violent activities which were part of their lives. The form of violence was not discussed in depth and was assumed to be violence.1 Evidence of knife wounds could be seen on the young men's bodies and at least one young man had suffered incest. The young men had many practical ideas about strategies for change.

The discussion here is a reflection of current approaches to prevention. The enthusiasm for crime prevention will be enhanced by attempts to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of those programs that have been implemented. One might also note that prevention efforts vary in scope - some focus specifically on violence, others on delinquency in general. Moreover, many initiatives in furtherance of health and education can make a significant contribution to violence prevention, although this may not be their objective.

Issues Emerging from the Summit

A number of issues emerged at the Summit. There was little evidence that the young men considered they had a responsibility to society. However, many expressed a desire to change and avoid violence. They perceived that things were not working for them in certain areas:

* An antagonistic relationship exists between the young men and police.

* The young men wanted help to manage their anger.

* The young men could not access or afford recreational facilities to legitimately expend their energy.

* They wanted to make drugs harder to get.

These issues are discussed in a major report prepared by the Instiute and confirmed in the literature as discussed below.

Young Men and Violence

Violence in the Family

Violence in the family has been made visible over the last 30 years, largely as a result of major enquiries about domestic violence and child abuse. Recently, the Women's Safety Survey found that in the 12 months prior to the survey, about 6.2 per cent of Australian women experienced either physical or sexual violence by a male perpetrator (Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 1996, p. 4). The study found that 23 per cent of women who have been married or in a de facto relationship experienced violence by a partner at some time during the relationship (ABS 1996, p. 50).

Police statistics are an indication of the extent of violence towards children in families. Few offences are reported to the police. However, the statistics show that in 1998, 109 per 100,000 children up to the age of 9 and 575 per 100,000 children between the ages of 10 and 14 were the victims of assault (ABS 1998, p. 50). The level of reported sexual assault is similar amongst young children, 109 per 100,000 children up to the age of 9 and 210 per 100,000 children between the ages of 10 and 14 were victims of sexual assault (ABS 1998, p. …