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AI-Powered Insights into Youth Perspectives on Violence

Bringing together stories from 1000s of young people

The efforts of Peer Researchers and the Delivery Partner organisations supporting them yielded a remarkable amount rich qualitative data from 4,600 young people on issues of violence.

Initially, our priority was to validate GenAI’s capability to precisely analyse the diverse data originating from various locations throughout England and Wales, which utilised multiple methodologies and questions. OC&C undertook thorough testing, comparing a segment of AI-encoded data against a human-processed counterpart. The outcome was a high degree of accuracy, enabling us to derive insights that we could be confident in.

We wanted to gain more insight on five topics: Social Media, Police, Education, Trusted Adults and Positive Activities, wanting to understand more about the effect each can have on issues of youth violence.

1. Social Media

Social media is generally viewed as contributing to escalating real-life violence. There are a range of reasons cited for it contributing to violence, primarily that it facilitates conflicts, leading to real-life altercations, as well as normalising violence through exposure to violent content from peers, celebrities and video games.

2. Police

Respondents would make changes to how police work to reduce violence. Key changes are focused on increasing engagement between police and the community, increasing police presence and including having police be involved in education around issues such as youth violence.

3. Education

Respondents do not believe that schools are doing enough to prevent pupil involvement in violence. Young people have plenty of positive things to say about their schools and the role that individual teachers played in their lives. The negative perceptions are driven by schools lacking effective education on youth violence, school being seen as unsafe and a lack of provision for key challenges young people are facing such as mental health and bullying.

4. Trusted Adults

There is strong consensus across interviews that a lack of positive influence from adults can lead to involvement in violence. Trusted adults can be a range of people: family members, teachers & pastoral workers in school, community and charity workers and police

There are a range of reasons for trusting these adults, including their ability to provide emotional support and their ability to protect young people – these vary by group of adults, with social workers seen as providing support and police providing authority.

5. Positive Activities

Respondents believe that positive activities help deter youth violence, with almost all agreeing with this view. This is primarily due to positive activities providing safe and engaging environments for young people, removing them from situations where youth violence occurs, while also providing educational opportunities and a sense of community. The main positive activities referenced by respondents include educational activities (e.g. formal education & mentoring), community activities (e.g. youth clubs) and sports.

What have we learned by using AI to analyse peer research at scale?

  1. AI can be a powerful tool to rapidly and accurately analyse qualitative data at scale. Combined with rigorous testing and considerations of ethics, this approach has the capacity to save time and budget, allowing teams to spend more time on making sure research findings have an impact.
  2. Young people do not have uniformed views. When working to understand the attitudes of young people, it is important they are not be seen as a homogenous group. The peer-to-peer format of the Peer Action Collective provides a platform for young people to voice diverse and, at-times, polarised views, and make change from what they find.
  3. Who is doing the research is important. Before the involvement of AI in this project, it was the young people doing the research who were able to have candid discussions with their peers, bringing different insights from traditional approaches for many reasons, from accessibility, to comfort, to language. The leadership of young people in PAC emphasises the importance of including those directly affected by issues of violence in the conversation about solutions.

Funded by the Youth Endowment Fund, the #iwill Fund (a joint investment between The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport) and the Co-op, the PAC is here to support young people to take the lead.  To find out more about PAC, visit

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