The complexity of youth violence

I spent last Tuesday afternoon volunteering with WAVE Trust at the conference on Working to Reduce Serious Youth Violence.

Serendipity strikes again – last night Patrick Harris nominated KidsCo for this year’s Colin Morley award in the Medinge Brands With a Conscience, and just as I arrive today Camille Batmanghelidjh, Kids Company Founder, stands up to present.

Very interesting model – working in London schools with seriously disadvantage children.  And in schools, the children are allowed to self-refer, making the support they need emergent rather than pre-determined. Particularly crucial given the chaotic environment many of these children are in.  Fascinating and healthy model.

The same goes for their street-level support – 200 children a day, often without the stability that most of us take for granted.  Stabilising influences actually being unstabilising and threatening – in complexity terms, potential attractors being repellors.

Many of the speakers were excellent, with some notable standouts.  What was particularly noticeable was the degree to which complexity was the space in which they operated, not complicated.  Very few approaches called for processes or procedures or rules and regulations, instead it was about building different network structures (social), understanding identities, introducing probes and then reinforcing barriers or attractors.

The most noticeable point for me was the survey of London boroughs – what did they want first and foremost to help reduce youth violence?  More youth activities.  An attractor in complex space if ever I heard it.