Friday, 14 November 2008


There was theme of 'boys' on the go last week. First I attended a gathering of men who have been interviewed by Sarah Nelson. She is carrying out research on the care and support needs of male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The report is due to be launched at a Voices of Male Survivors Conference in February. We had gathered to hear the key findings of Sarah's research so far, to get the men's response to those findings and to explore ways the men, as survivors, might feed into the conference. One of the ideas that came up was to produce posters that could be exhibited at the conference. Various ideas were discussed. One of the group is an artist and the others have good ideas, so I am looking forward to collaborating with them. Next step is to have a look at the venue to help inform the style and design of the posters.

Boys were also the theme of the adventure lunch last week in the refurbished Chrystal MacMillan Building - the new home of the School of Social and Political Science. The idea of the adventure lunch is to spotlight a contribution from each of the  different disciplines on selected themes, in this case boys. It was fascinating to hear these different perspectives on a subject close to my heart. Every artist who works with children and young people as part of their practice has at least one story to tell about 'problem' boys and 'art' experiences which reveal them in a completely different light.

It was particularly interesting to hear from Lesley McAra and Susan McVie of the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime
 They were focusing on serious offending and vulnerabilities. Their findings show that the most vulnerable and victimised boys aged 12 -13 are the ones most likely to go on to serious offending.

The Edinburgh Study findings also show that nurturing advocacy at the point of transition (age 12 - 13) is the most effective intervention, but that agencies are not good at identifying vulnerable boys. Since serious offending is very common among boys aged 15 (50% according to some figures) it begs the question that maybe all boys should have access to nurturing advocacy. Perhaps argued for along the same lines as for universal school meals.

The Edinburgh Study demonstrates to me the power of quantitative research to back up personal experience, although what was also evident was the passion and commitment of Lesley and Susan to use their figures to argue for different ways of seeing and responding. Chrystal MacMillan would have applauded.

Chrystal MacMillan

1 comment:

Sarah Morton said...

Love the links you are making across the topics. Also well done for showing us a picture of Chrystal Macmillan - the first building here to be named after a woman - at last!