Statistics reveal that young men from working class communities are over-represented amongst victims of the Northern Ireland Troubles, suicides, crime, school suspensions, expulsions and academic underachievement. Despite a new political context of peacebuilding the relationship between violence and personal safety continues to be critical to marginalised young men’s everyday lives and experiences. Drawing upon primary research from a five year longitudinal study and previous studies carried out by the Centre for Young Men’s Studies, this paper provides a critical analysis of young men born after the 1994 ceasefires capturing their sense of alienation, perceived normality of violence, unwelcomed interactions with paramilitary members and restrictive notions of masculinity. These factors combined with attitudes of suspicion and distrust surrounding the role of the police leaves young men feeling confused about law and youth justice. This paper argues the need for a more relevant school curriculum informed by, and aimed specifically at, engaging young men through a youth work methodology addressing the themes of youth justice, violence and masculinity. The authors acknowledge that whilst addressing the behaviour of certain young men can be very challenging, there is a need for those working with young men to more proactively engage young men through a ‘Balanced Approach’ of collaborative working between formal, informal and non-formal education
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- work with young men
- youth work methodology