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Exploring the Intersection of Gang/On Road Involvement and Childhood Exposure to Domestic Violence and Abuse

This research aims to answer the question; what is it like for young men to have experienced both exposure to domestic violence/abuse (DVA) in childhood and been involved with a gang/on road?[1]


Exposure to DVA is relatively commonplace for children, with research suggesting between 14% to 25% children in the UK will witness DVA at home (Radford et al., 2011; Bently et al., 2016). There are numerous ramifications of childhood exposure to abuse which are varied and individual (Wolfe et al., 2003; Hague et al., 2012). For boys and young men, witnessing DVA has been proposed as a risk factor for later gang membership in policy documents (Centre for Social Justice, 2009; HM Government, 2011) which has been supported in my consultations with professionals. Despite there being a clear overlap between these different support sectors of DVA services, child protection and gang outreach services there is little professional contact between the three for young men who experience DVA and gang/on road involvement. Hester (2011) noted how different professional sectors can operate as if on distinct ‘planets’ each with their own language, population of professionals and cultures, which can impinge on their inter-relations and communication. By shining a light on the professional disconnect between the support sectors the research aims to improve front-line work with these dual affected young people.

Memory Work (Haug, 1999a) and Life-story narrative interviews (Plummer, 2001) will be used with young men to explore their experiences of DVA and on road, and to explore how/if this relates to their individual identities and gender performance.


[1] ‘On road’ is a term which is used by gang members to refer to behaviours which include those associated with a gang. Previous researchers (Hallsworth and Young, 2004; Earle, 2011; Young, 2016) have found that this has been a more successful term to use with young people as opposed to ‘gang’. So in the research I have decided to use the term gang/on road involvement.

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