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April 10th, 2010

Our area

Hi people. I’m Fiona and work for the Canaan Project. You can read a bit about me below. James and I have been reflecting this week on the violence between local young people, which seems to be becoming more and more frequent or at least we’re more aware of it. The use of weapons such as knives and even machetes is now common and the age of those using them getting increasingly younger. At least two young people have been seriously injured in the last week alone in separate incidents.

It seems that an event as small as a look or throw away comment can escalate to extreme acts of violence as “justice” is sought through bigger and bigger reactions. The original offence is forgotten and it becomes about maintaining reputation and respect and not being seen to be weak. Status is everything and to be seen as weak is social suicide.

Post codes or areas are also the cause of larger scale, longer-term feuds. The Teviot Estate where we work often finds itself on the frontline of area related disputes as it lies between two areas that have a notorious and long-standing rift. Many of the young people we encounter are afraid to go to other local estates as anyone who isn’t recognised can become a target. One of our young helpers who has never been involved in such disputes himself was recently attacked by some young people from another area that he’d never seen before. It seems that the young peoples search for identity, significance and belonging leads them to develop strong allegiances to the areas that they are from which they will defend at any cost.

Myself and James are left wondering what our role is in the face of such widespread and deeply ingrained issues and cycles. As people that are working for the wholeness of the young people and their communities we must do something…