Peer Violence – Teenagers' Perception of Youth Violence

Teenagers' perception toward youth violence and violence interventions and its dependency on gender and migration background

Most studies about youth violence focus on the frequency and the origin of violence and violent behavior. In contrast to these studies, our proposed study aims at how teenagers evaluate violence and related interventions in their daily life. Special attention will be paid to whether and how gender and migration background of the involved teenagers plays a role. However, a survey about peer violence faces two main challenges. First, different contexts of daily violence have to be considered. Second, questionnaires about violence tend to trigger socially desired answers. Therefore, the use of the vignette method (also called fractional survey) is an innovative way to tackle these problems. The vignette method adopts descriptions of hypothetical situations with different context elements, e.g. different forms of violence and characteristics of involved persons. Thus, young respondents are confronted with rather specific, highly contextualized forms of violence and violent behavior instead of abstract concepts and aspects of violence (as typical for standard questionnaires).

The proposed study starts with a qualitative vignette study which aims at the determination of appropriate violent settings for the quantitative vignette study. For that purpose we conduct focus group discussions with young people on different kinds of violent settings. For the quantitative vignette study we conduct a survey of 1.600 teenage students, in which they will be systematically asked about a wide range of violent scenarios. Based on these findings we finally develop realistic scenarios of violence which can be used in violence preventive programs for training purposes. The aim is to sensibilize teenagers’ behavior and attitude toward violence and promote a reflective way of dealing with violence and violent behavior among youngsters.

The project will be realized together with students and teachers of co-operating schools. The co-operation should result in an intensive engagement of students in the topic of violence during teaching lessons, e.g. writing essays, designing posters, reporting violent observation, and guided interviews with other pupils or moderated classroom-discussions. In addition, we will hold workshops on a voluntary basis for discussing special topics on youth-violence in more depth. Interested students may also support the implementation of the qualitative and quantitative vignette study. Furthermore, the study’s progress will be presented to and discussed with students and teachers on a regular basis.

This project has been completed.