June 2017

UCB lecturer travels to Memphis, Tennessee to present innovative paper on youth violence

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Craig Pinkney, who lectures on a number of UCB’s degree courses and is the UK leader of the EUGANGS project, has just returned from presenting a ground-breaking paper at the Annual Conference for the Homicide Research Working Group in Memphis, Tennessee. The conference brings academics and policy-makers together from all over the world to try and tackle different issues surrounding violent homicide in the USA and beyond.  On the back of an extensive study he conducted in partnership with Birmingham City University (BCU), Craig delivered a lecture about the influence of trap and drill music genres and social media on youth violence within deprived boroughs of Chicago, London and Birmingham.

The paper Craig presented puts UCB at the cutting-edge of national research into this issue – something he believes will not only have positive impact on students at UCB, but hopefully on broader efforts to counter a rise in fatal youth violence in the city.

One of the biggest features of Craig’s research was an investigation into the way social media has changed how rival youth groups in deprived areas interact. His reports conclude that various platforms like Snapchat, Twitter and video-streaming platform Periscope, provide far more opportunities for individuals and gangs in urban communities to antagonise each other than there were in the pre-internet age. This, he claims, seems to have led to more aggression, more violent crime, and a higher chance of tragic fatalities among underprivileged young people in the UK.

UCB and BCU’s partnered research also focused on the way young people’s interaction with certain kinds of trap and drill music on social media could be traced directly to spikes in violence within the same areas. For example, in one notorious Birmingham-based drill music video, a known gang explicitly mentions violent crimes they committed against their rivals to gain recognition online.

However, the study’s findings underline one thing above all: that far from blaming young people for this phenomenon this is about understanding those affected by these wider trends and protecting them from potential criminalisation. Craig believes this point is especially important considering his work with those in the School of Education, Health and Community at UCB.

“The message that comes from our research feeds directly into everything I teach my students, from modules in criminology, to safeguarding, to working with gangs,” Craig said.

 “And that message is that without trying to fully understand the changing impact of social media and the growing popularity of certain music genres on vulnerable young people we can do nothing to change the violence that can emerge from it.

“I hope that sharing this research with teachers, parents and most importantly our own students will encourage them to take that knowledge not only into their future careers but back into their own communities, where it could have a really positive impact.”

To find out more about UCB’s School of Education, Health and Community click here. 

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