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Inter-Group and Inter-Racial Violence and the Victimisation of School Students in a London Neighbourhood

NCJ Number
John Pitts; Alan Marlow; David Porteous; Ian Toon
Date Published
4 pages
This document presents findings from the second phase of a research project, which aimed to reduce the violent racial victimization of school students in the London Borough of Walford.
This study was undertaken near a housing estate with a reputation for high levels of crime in general and interracial violence in particular. Interviews were conducted with 20 adult “key informants,” 26 Bangladeshi young men aged between 10 and 20, and two groups of white working class young men and women, 40 in total, 10- to 13-years-old and 15- to 20-years-old respectively. These groups associated with a further twelve African Caribbean young men and women who were also interviewed. Results showed that interracial youth violence on the notorious housing estate studied was no higher than on other, less notorious, housing estates in the borough. This violence was episodic, irregular, and largely seasonal, taking place in the summer months during school holidays. But it was often highly visible, attracting large audiences. Incidents were triggered by a “lone male out of place” incident, involving a small group of protagonists. Few of the young people on the estate were actively involved in interracial violence. When young people stopped the interracial fighting it was usually because a new opportunity arose or the activity became incompatible with other valued goals. Younger white adolescents regarded their school as a dangerous place while younger Bangladeshis saw the school as a relatively safe place. The route to school was perceived to be dangerous. Bangladeshi young people, adults, and families appeared to face significantly different dangers from whites and were subject to racial harassment and occasional violence from a variety of quarters. Professional intervention could be re-focused to include work on issues of violence, racism, and xenophobia for those young people already involved with welfare and youth justice agencies. Sometimes certain trusted adults, such as youth workers, teachers, or a police officer, are called upon to avert violence. It is suggested that some formal recognition of this important role and the development of appropriate training and support to enhance this role would be useful.