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Sad Kids, Not Bad Kids:
Developing the Blueprint for a Comprehensive Youth Violence Prevention Strategy

Key Speakers

Dr. Dinesh Sethi, MSc MD MRCP FFPH, Violence and Injury Prevention, WHO Regional Office for Europe
Mrs. Sonia Zdorovtzoff, Head of European Affairs, International Juvenile Justice Observatory
Prof. Christina Salmivalli, Department of Psychology, University of Turku, Finland
Mr. Wim van Geffen, Director MST-Netherlands
Ms. Saskia Moonen, Multi-dimensional Treatment Foster Care, Netherlands
Dr. Kees van Overveld, HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht Netherlands

According to a recent report on youth violence, 40 young people are murdered everyday in Europe, with interpersonal violence being the third leading cause of death among people aged 10-29, accounting for 15,000 homicides annually. Furthermore, estimates suggest that for every young person who dies, 20 more are admitted to hospital. If all European countries experienced the same homicide rates as the lowest in the Region, Europe could potentially save over 13,000 young lives per year. However, young people are just as likely to be vulnerable to being victims of violence and crime as they are to being perpetrators.

Youth violence cannot solely be blamed on individuals as it is a product of social, cultural and economic factors. Wealth and gender influence levels of violence; young people from poorer backgrounds are more at risk than those who are better off, with 9 out of 10 homicide deaths in Europe occurring in low and middle income countries.

A recent WHO Report suggests that many of the root causes of violence arise in childhood and reducing risk factors such as poor family environment, unstable relationships and alcohol and drug misuse and enhancing protective factors will reduce violence. Being a victim of neglect or abuse in early years may result in aggressive behaviour, and bullying in schools and in the community increases young people’s risk of involvement in violence. Addressing the root causes and risk factors is a societal responsibility, which falls on many sectors, such as health, education, criminal justice and local government, and is more cost-effective than solely dealing with violence and its consequences.

Numerous measures have been introduced to prevent youth violence by targeting children and young adults in schools and in their communities. Programmes targeting child development, whether to promote positive parenting or to enhance children’s life and social skills, are proven to be successful in preventing youth violence. It has been suggested that the health sector is best placed to lead evidence-based preventative approaches to address the root causes of violence, in partnership with other sectors.

It must be acknowledged that the overwhelming majority of young people are law-abiding and throughout Europe, the ‘bad kids’ are often also the ‘sad kids’, people most in need of preventative diversionary programmes and support.

This International Symposium offers a unique opportunity to identify the most effective youth violence prevention practices across Europe and ensure support services are youth-centred. It aims to monitor and measure the impact of partnership working and exchange good practices at local, national and international levels. The Symposium seeks to integrate the European knowledge in order to help shape a comprehensive EU-wide youth violence prevention strategy.

The Symposium will support the exchange of ideas and encourage delegates to engage in thought-provoking topical debate with local and regional practitioners and policymakers at EU level.

Delegates will:

  • Contribute to the shaping of a comprehensive EU-wide youth violence prevention strategy
  • Identify youth violence prevention practices and stimulate partnership working at all levels
  • Share comparative multi-level good practices in youth-inclusion policies
  • Discuss and promote early intervention mechanisms to strengthen youth violence prevention


09:15 Registration and Morning Refreshments
10:00 Chair’s Welcome and Opening Remarks

Mrs. Sonia Zdorovtzoff, Head of European Affairs, International Juvenile Justice Observatory (confirmed)
10:10 Session One:
Socio-Economic Determinants of Youth Violence in Europe – Disseminating Evidence-Based Experience and Prevention Strategies
  • Early Identification of Problem Behaviour
  • Understanding the Nature of Youth Violence
  • Assessing and Reducing Risk Factors for Increased Youth Violence Behaviour
  • Best Practices, Lessons Learned and Recommendations
Dr. Dinesh Sethi, MSc MD MRCP FFPH, Violence and Injury Prevention, WHO Regional Office for Europe (confirmed)
Mrs. Sonia Zdorovtzoff, Head of European Affairs, International Juvenile Justice Observatory (confirmed)
10:50 First Round of Discussions
11:20 Morning Coffee Break
11:40 Session Two:
Preventing Bullying and Exposure to Violence in Schools – Exchanging Best Practices and Lessons Learned
  • Effective Practices in Reducing Bullying – Exchanging Comparative Experience
  • Reducing Multiple Forms of Victimisation and Challenging Antisocial Behaviour
  • Changing Students’ Perceptions and Reducing Anxiety and Depression
  • Existing Challenges and Possible Solutions
  • Recommendations for Future Policy Actions
Prof. Christina Salmivalli, Department of Psychology, University of Turku, Finland (confirmed)
12:05 Second Round of Discussions
12:35 Networking Lunch
13:35 Session Three:
The Role of Community and Family Based Treatment Programmes for Reducing Youth Crime
  • Examine Youth Violence as a Form of Chronic Behaviour
  • Existing Evidence-Based Treatment Models in Europe
  • Creating an Effective and Holistic Prevention Strategy
  • Recommendations for Future Policy Actions
Mr. Wim van Geffen, Director MST-Netherlands (confirmed)
Ms. Saskia Moonen Multi-dimensional Treatment Foster Care, Netherlands (confirmed)
14:15 Third Round of Discussions
14:45 Afternoon Coffee Break
15:00 Session Four:
Supporting Alternative Thinking for Creating Youth Violence Prevention Strategies in Europe
  • Functional Family Therapy Strategies – Exchanging Best Practices
  • Best Practices and Lessons Learned from Cross-Border Projects in Europe
  • Latest Development and Existing Challenges
  • Recommendations
Dr. Kees van Overveld, HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht Netherlands (confirmed)
15:25 Fourth Round of Discussions
15:55 Chair’s Summary and Closing Remarks
16:00 Networking Refreshments
16:30 Symposium Close

Who Should Attend?

  • Youth and Outreach Workers
  • Youth Offending Teams
  • Youth Inclusion Teams from Young Offenders Institutes
  • Youth Crime and Violence Research Institutes
  • Child Sociology Institutes
  • Gender and Development Organisations
  • Youth Forums
  • Youth Organisations
  • Youth Migration Centres
  • Youth Crime NGOs
  • Integration of Young People Organisations
  • Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships
  • Community Safety Teams
  • Neighbourhood Policing Teams
  • Anti-Social Behaviour Coordinators
  • Drug and Alcohol Action Teams
  • Police Service, Police Authorities and Fire Services
  • Probation Officers
  • Town Centre Managers
  • Licensing Enforcement Officers
  • Community Cohesion and Development Organisations
  • Community Support Officers
  • Accident and Emergency Departments
  • Local Authority Officers and Councillors
  • Central Governmental Departments and Agencies
  • Children and Youth Services
  • Domestic Violence Co-ordinators
  • Family Services Officers
  • Health Service Professionals
  • Victim Support Representatives
  • Psychologists
  • Social Workers and Social Services Officers
  • Local Education Welfare Authorities
  • Teachers and Head Teachers
  • Neighbourhood Wardens and Co-ordinators
  • Criminal Justice Practitioners
  • Judges and Magistrates
  • Legal Professionals
  • Equality and Diversity Practitioners
  • Third Sector Practitioners
  • Academics and Researchers
  • Employment Centres
  • Psychoanalysts
  • Family Practitioners
  • Safety and Solidarity Centres
Tuesday 5th June 2012
The Silken Berlaymont Hotel
, Brussels

how to get to the venue

Register your place

“Compared with other age groups, young people have increased risks of involvement in violence as both victims and perpetrators. Youth is a period marked by rapid physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioural changes that can contribute to both aggression and vulnerability to violence. For example, biological and neurological changes occurring during puberty, such as a rise in the level of stress hormones, can increase the risk of engaging in aggressive or anti-social behaviour. Further, during youth, relationships with peers can take precedence over the influence of parents and other authority figures, and young people can be exposed for the first time to situations where violence may occur, such as sexual interactions, drinking environments and illicit drug markets. How young people cope with these challenges depends on the strength of their social and emotional skills, the family and social support they have around them and the cultural and social norms they have learned during childhood.”
- European Union and Council of Europe Partnership, 2011
“The moral, health, and business reasons for scaling up investments in violence prevention are compelling. By reducing the inequities in prevention investments between violence and related conditions, donors can safeguard against the likelihood that health gains achieved through their investments in disease prevention will be erased by the subsequent violent victimization of those whose lives are saved.”
- “Why invest in violence prevention?” VPA Funders’ Connect Project Group, World Health Organisation