A joint report produced for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, sheds new light on the risks encountered by young people and children growing up in places of high religious segregation.
The report assesses what types of risk affected young people and children growing up in places of high religious segregation or interface communities. It was found that the risk and experiences of harm and violence may have negative impacts upon development, emotional well-being and future prospects of youth and children. As such the aim of the report was to gain a better understanding of the types of risk that young people and children encounter to help develop appropriate responses in terms of aiding better personal and community development with regard to health, work, education, fear and prejudice and wider opportunities.
The report found that many young people’s lives are negatively affected by risks tied to violence within and between communities, exposure to drink and drugs, conflict within the home, transgenerational exclusion, behaviour problems in school and low aspirations. The research found that there was a link between those most at risk and their behaviour and attitudes, as well as the relationship young people and children have with their families. The more trust and interaction they had in a family relationship, the less likely they would be of engaging in risky behaviour.
Co-author of the report, Dr Clare Dwyer from the School of Law at Queen’s University commented “In the past, conflict within and between communities, was linked to ideology, experiencing harm and the role of groups in shaping forms of community response to violence. What is found here is that the link to identity, sectarianism and violence is related to family cohesion, emotional well-being and levels of risk aversion. This research provides a platform for the development of responses to ensure these risks are eradicated or at the very least diminished.”
The full report, entitled ‘Growing Up On an Interface: Findings and Implications for the Social Needs, Mental Health and Lifetime Opportunities of Belfast Youth’, can be found online at https://www.ofmdfmni.gov.uk