WP3 Understanding and preventing serious violence among youth

This WP studies the pathways to lethal outcomes and near-miss events. Drawing on recent advances in the comparative analysis of lethal violence, we will conduct a detailed social autopsy of homicide victims and compare these to suicides and drug deaths.

Mechanisms, such as social exclusion and structural disadvantage are examined in a cross-cutting manner with the other two types of death, with due attention to the possible role of societal reactions to violence in shaping the identities and pathways of the victims.

Interpersonal violence differs from drug overdoses and suicides in the central role of the offender. Committing lethal or other serious violence is a drastic turning point for a young person, damaging their lives for a long period — even permanently.

The violence work package underscores that violence research must be able to penetrate the “hidden” aspects of crime and its formative processes by supplementing and bypassing registers created by control and welfare authorities. To tackle this challenge, we draw on qualitative interviews with survivors of near-miss events, and a survey of young prisoners. This allows us to examine social and cultural mechanisms of violence, such as peer group and gang formation, and the informal rewards of violence, acting as “snares” to negative outcomes.

We combine the strengths of the homicide fatality review tradition with the structurally oriented social autopsy perspective in violence prevention.

Janne Kivivuori

Professor of Criminology, University of Helsinki +358 029 412 0862