Duration: May 2021 – April 2023

The WHO acknowledges youth violence as a major public health issue. Youth violence can take up many forms including physical, verbal, psychological and sexual. The UNICEF 2018 Report “An Everyday Lesson: #ENDviolence in Schools” shows that half of the students aged 13–15 experiences bullying or physical fights within a year. The Council of Europe Strategy on the Rights of the Child 2016-2021 has identified violence prevention as one of the five priority areas to guarantee the promotion of children’s rights. Research shows that there are numerous risk factors strongly associated with youth violence that occur at different levels: individual level (i.e. personality and behavioural factors), family and close relationship level (i.e. negative peer influence, lack of social ties, poor parent-child relationships, parents’ antisocial behaviours etc.) and community and society level (i.e. low social cohesion, inequality, insecurity, gender and cultural norms) (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, WHO, 2015).

As with risk factors, also protective factors can be built at these different levels to reduce the likelihood of youth violence. Therefore, based on this evidence and the lessons learnt from the previous project, the “Youth 4 Love 2” project will promote the adoption of a comprehensive multi-stakeholder approach that involves actors that do not typically cooperate such as youth, parents, educational professionals (school and community), associations, private service providers (private and third sector), public services and authorities (public sector) at local, national and EU level. This approach acknowledges that schools are important to reduce and prevent peer violence because they can involve many young people at one time. Nonetheless, school-based interventions need to be integrated by broader violence-prevention initiatives conducted at the community level to address the risks factors that stem from outside the school environment. The process of such community engagement starts from the actors around the schools (youth, teachers, families and community associations) to build broad coalitions and cooperation and advocate for better policies with authorities and decision makers.

The project’s overall objective is to prevent, detect and address peer violence among adolescents (14-18 years) in 5 targeted communities in 4 European countries (Italy, Belgium, Greece and Romania). In order to achieve the overall objective, the action will promote the adoption of positive behaviours for preventing and addressing peer violence among the following target groups: youth, families, educational professionals and community members at large. Community members including individuals, families, schools, NGOs/associations, service providers and local authorities will be involved in community-based initiatives developed and led by youth to prevent and address peer violence. EU citizens, particularly youth, will improve their awareness of the topic through online activities and national and European stakeholders including policymakers, authorities, experts will be involved in advocacy activities to promote policy improvements/changes.

In summary, on the European level the project will involve:

  • 400 students, 190 teachers and school staff, and 50 parents/tutors (high education) to tackle peer violence by adapting a whole-school approach.
  • 100 students, 200 youth, 25 parents, 10 local authorities and 40 local actors (CSOs, child protection professionals, gender equality experts) to address peer violence by implementing local community-based initiatives.
  • 5 million people through online activities to address peer violence through a EU wide campaign and a web game.
  • 3 EU & 12 national policy makers, 20 national stakeholders (CSOs, child protection professionals, gender equality experts), 40 teachers, 12 youth and 10 parents with advocacy activities that influence changes in peer violence related policies.

The project partnership is composed of the following European organizations: ActionAid Italia (Italy), ActionAid Hellas (Greece), UC Limburg (Belgium), AFOL Metropolitana (Italy) and Fundatia Centrul Partenariat Pentru Egalitate (Romania) and is co-funded by the European Union – Department of Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality.