Positivity in Practice: Approaches to improving perceptions of young people and their involvement in crime and anti-social behaviour

Kay Kinder, Kerry Martin, Ruth Hart, Shona Macleod

28 June 2010

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There is a mismatch between perceptions and reality about the scale of young people’s involvement in crime and anti-social behaviour. Professionals contributing to an NFER-funded research corroborate this finding from previous research and government policy. They also note that negative perceptions are detrimental to both young people and their communities.

This NFER study highlights the range of approaches that local authorities (LAs) and their partner organisations are undertaking to improve how young people are perceived in their communities, especially in relation to crime and anti-social behaviour. It also describes the methods used by LAs to measure the impact of activities on perceptions.

The study raised a number of issues that can be taken forward by policy makers and strategic leads at both national and local level.

Key Findings

  • undertake a local audit of current activities designed to impact positively on perceptions (using the typology of approaches developed from this study). This will support future strategic planning and co-ordination.
  • measure the impact of activities more systematically. This will provide clearer direction for those developing, commissioning and championing work locally.
  • ensure systematic and ongoing communication of positive activities involving young people and the impacts achieved. This will help to influence wider public perceptions and provide a balance to negative media coverage.
  • develop the skills and knowledge of operational staff with local or regional training activities, toolkits, and guidance documents This will improve the delivery, evaluation and communications of activities.
  • provide a policy steer that is specific to addressing negative perceptions about young people. This will encourage agencies to work together.
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