Youth crime and role models

15 Jul 2008 by Karl Hallam

Today's announcement of the Youth Crime Action Plan coincided with Hazel Blears launching a search for role models to inspire Black boys. It's not clear whether this was intentional, probably not, but both are relevant to Cadence's work on a Blueprint for community based youth work.

These two bits of news appear to link to another recent story, namely the resignation of Ray Lewis, Boris Johnson's Deputy. Was/is Ray Lewis perhaps the sort of role model the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government might be searching for?

Role models or heroes often do let you down. Does that mean they can't remain or be an inspiration to young people, whatever mistake they made.

Would Hazel Blears see Dwain Chambers or Linford Christie as potential role models? They've both made mistakes, but doesn't that make them easier for young people to relate to? The media's demonising of sports ‘drug cheats' does not help, but they've both come back and are performing at the highest level in sprinting and sprint coaching respectively.

Evaluation of programmes like Positive Futures has certainly found that inspirational people (often without youth worker or other relevant qualifications) are often better at engaging the young people. Especially those kids from the 110,000 ‘problematic' families the Crime Action Plan coverage talks about.

In the current climate it is difficult for a government to resist the tough on crime mantra and shy away from tough on the causes argument, but role models can play a part in prevention, as long as we don't expect the role models to be perfect and therefore difficult to relate to.

your comments

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