Hi! My name is Beate, and Young Devon has employed me to work as a Peer Researcher, to gather information from young people directly on how they think Youth Violence could be reduced.

I’ve never experienced working for a cause so great before, so working as part of the Peer Action Collective has been life-changing for me. Some of my favourite experiences within the role have involved talking to young people and having an opportunity to hear their life experiences and how violence has impacted on them, as well as hear their personal opinions on how they think Youth Violence could be reduced. Not to mention meeting other Peer Researchers from around the country with the same passion for this project and its causes!

Something which I have found important through the research process is that often young people are made out to be the `cause` of Youth Violence. More often than not, the violence is inflicted onto them, and not enough attention is brought upon this. Talking to young people and hearing about their experiences was eye opening; making me realise that sometimes young people feel like there is a wall between adults and young people which is hard to break down. Young people are often misheard, and this also is not spoken about enough.  

There were several themes that emerged during the analysis part of our research; the theme which I have chosen to focus on going forward is “emotional consequences of Youth Violence”. There were other themes, picked by other Peer Researchers, which you will read about over the next couple of weeks. The theme I have chosen is very important to me, because I think that suffering in silence is a large part of experiencing the consequences of violence. Often times, the emotions may get heightened and young people do not know what these emotions are or how to manage and live with them. These emotions aren’t given enough credit because they can really affect a person and make them anxious or depressed, purely because they do not even know that the emotions felt are normal.  

As part of my Peer Researcher role within the Peer Action Collective, I have complied some suggestions of social action changes in my local community, that could help to reduce the emotional consequences of Youth Violence. One change that I think would be beneficial is introducing more easily accessible help-sheets and posters for young people who have experienced Youth Violence, which anyone can access at any time. These sheets and posters should be designed so that anyone can understand them; they should be concise and have highlighted key points to make it easy to read and understand.

I am going to support this change by creating a poster on emotional consequences of Youth Violence. This poster will be emailed, and handed to schools to have them in hallways and classrooms. I will also produce QR codes which lead people to the poster; these are going to be placed all around my local community.

My experience this year has been life-changing, and taught me a lot about Youth Violence. Being a part of the Peer Action Collective has been incredibly enjoyable, and I hope to make a difference to local young people’s lives through my team’s research and my social action.

Want to find out more about the Peer Action Collective? Visit our PAC webpage, to read all about our project! We are currently looking for 10-20 year olds to become Changemakers, and local businesses and authority figures to sign our Professional Pledge.