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Responding to Youth Violence Through Youth Work$
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Mike Seal and Pete Harris

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781447323099

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447323099.001.0001

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Responding at the existential (E) level

Responding at the existential (E) level

(p.121) Seven Responding at the existential (E) level
Responding to Youth Violence Through Youth Work

Mike Seal

Pete Harris

Policy Press

This chapter posits that existentialist philosophy may present youth workers with an alternative framework for understanding some aspects of their practice when working with young people involved in violence. An existentialist perspective on choice, relationships and personhood could help to sustain workers facing the daunting challenge of bringing about some discernible change in offenders’ behaviour and ultimately their desistance from crime and violence. Workers should also encourage young people to take some solace from small, and again, symbolic achievements. Building on Baizerman’s (2001) work, the authors explore how workers need to encourage young people to look less at the chronology of their lives or events and instead emphasise the meaning that they put on their experiences. In the process, the authors highlight the possibilities presented to workers of two theoretical trajectories within existential practice, one rooted in Christian existentialist thought, and the other, less theistic in hue, that would place an emphasis on the responsibility that radical freedom brings.

Keywords:   existentialism, radical freedom, Christian existentialism, desistance, meaning

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