We are pupils from Cedar Mount High School who have come together to produce a performance, documentary and digital resource about Girls in Gangs. This is a resource aimed at young people, teachers and youth workers to be used in schools, youth organisations and universities.
We wanted to make a resource that would help people to explore the complex and important issues around girls’ involvement in gangs. Anyone will benefit from looking into this subject because in society, we must all work together to solve challenging problems. This resource will also be useful for any engagement work with young people, people at risk of becoming involved with gangs or those already involved.
About the project
Union Street Media Arts worked with Cedar Mount Academy and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) to support pupils to develop and film their own drama piece as well as produce a documentary that will educate other girls and pupils and raise awareness about the real risks of gang involvement amongst their peers within their own school, other schools in Greater Manchester and beyond. They have been working together to understand and address the issues relating to gangs and to build capacity in addressing those issues.
Cedar Mount Academy initially recognised the need to look into the gang experience by consulting with girls and boys at the school through drama and police workshops. A main theme girls have voiced is the need for girls to be respected and supported to respect themselves and not get labelled as a ‘slag’ or ‘sket’. Over the recent years, GMP have experienced an increase in violence and sexual assaults by young males against girls. The Home Office’s gang and youth violence strategy focuses on supporting local partnerships to respond effectively and has targeted 3 force areas (London, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands). Through their Communities Against Guns, Gangs and Knives Fund the Home Office have focussed on supporting voluntary sector organisations in those areas working with young people at risk of involvement in gang and subsequently have funded us £10,000 to do this project.
Alexander, Hallsworth and Young in three pieces of research in 2005 and 2008, state that there is not much research available in the UK looking into the details of girl’s involvement in gangs and focus instead more on the existence of gangs suggesting a lack of information on the experiences of girls. Further to this, the Race on the Agenda (2011) research paper ‘This Is It, This Is My Life’ has evidenced the need for intervention and gang education to address the needs and explore the experiences of girls (as gang members, peers, girlfriends, siblings and parents). In addition, ‘Youth Gangs, Sexual Violence and Sexual Exploitation’ (2011) suggest broad characteristics of girl’s involvement and ways into gangs that point to the existence of a greater diversity of experience, ‘gang culture’ and motivation for becoming involved than we may be aware of.
The young people that were involved in the development of the project believe that girls need to be educated at year 7 to not start relationships with gang members. The best way they thought this could be done is by informing and educating their peers about some of the real facts and risk through drama and film thus.
More information about the project, it’s approach, partnerships, ideas for sessions and activities and other resources can be found in the resources page under ‘Project Resources’.
Contact Natasha Boojihawon, CAGGK Girls in Gangs Project Manager, Union Street Media Arts CIC, firstname.lastname@example.org