Victim Support Malta had long felt the need to raise awareness about the reality of youth victims of crime and in 2013 proposed a project, Victim Support for Youth (VS4Y), for funding from The Malta Community Chest Fund. The project was awarded funding in March 2014 and project implementation started in May 2014. The project is being implemented in partnership with Forum Laburisti, Membri tal-Partit Nazzjonalista (MPN), Kunsill Studenti Universitarji (KSU) and the Young Women’s Christian Association Malta (YWCA, Malta).
VS4Y is being implemented on the basis of three main branches – a Research Paper, an awareness raising phase and training delivery. The Research Paper Not Just Offenders: A Study into Youth as Victims of Crime carries out a thorough local and international literature review about the subject at hand and looks at the psychological, social and emotional implications of being a victim of crime at a young age with the short- and long-term consequent repurcussions. In the definition of youth itself, the Paper rests on the definition provided National Youth Policy which considers youth to be young people aged between 13 and 29 years.
Young people are often portrayed as the offenders and much focus in terms of policy making and service provision is put on the penal treatment and rehabilitation of these young offenders. In reality, statistics show that children and young people are more likely to be victims of crime than any other age group and are highly susceptible to repeated victimisation. Teens and young adults thus not only experience the same crimes as adults do – from robbery, sexual assault, and car theft, to relationship violence, assaults and stalking, but they are also more vulnerable to deal with such abuse and often do not have the pscyhological, financial or practical resources necessary to deal with the abuse itself or its aftermath.
In view of putting forward a series of suggestions in terms of the necessary legal, political and practical changes that must take place, also in view of the required implementation of Directive 2012/29/EU establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime before the end of 2015, the Paper looks at what other international institutions and organisations are doing in the field of youth victimisation in terms of policy, projects and services offerred and tries to give an overview of which generic services are being offered locally at the moment.
As regards awareness raising, a set of four posters, each focusing on a particular crime and inviting young victims of crime to get the information and support they are entitled to, will be distributed throughout Malta. Places of distribution will include educational establishments, factories, restaurants, pubs, local councils and recreational centres and sports clubs. Social media will be intensely used and contacts have been made with a wide variety of local organisations and NGOs to ensure the widest possible presence on social media networks. A number of newspaper articles are also planned as well as appearances on television and radio programmes.
Training will be delivered to the main stakeholders with the general aim of reaching as many as the volunteers and professionals in touch with young people as possible, sensitising them to the issue of crime victimology among youth in order for them to be able to handle the initial contact, aide disclosure and refer to Victim Support Malta. The first part of the training will focus on the rights of victims of crime and a second part will be more hands-on.
Check out the VS4Y Report here