THE ROOT CAUSES.
WHY WE EXIST.
Exposure to serious violence without support to heal
Successive governments have failed to address the root causes of serious youth violence in the UK. The UK prefers a punitive approach towards violence over healing-centred approaches and has not developed an adequate infrastructure to respond to the needs of young people who are exposed to escalating violence. In London alone, 193 teenagers were killed between 2009 - 2019. These murders are only the tip of the iceberg. How many young people are the victims of violent attacks and survive? How many young people access therapeutic support after experiencing violence? How many young people receive bereavement support after losing a friend? Death is always a communal experience, but there is an additional communal layer of trauma and grief when a child is violently murdered.
The criminal justice system inflicts violence and harm
The criminal justice system is the only apparatus that exists to deal with violence at a societal level but many fail to acknowledge the extreme harm this system inflicts at every level. From policing to prisons, the criminal justice system is inherently violent in nature and this perpetuates the violence in our communities. If we truly want to understand the impacts of violence, we must acknowledge all the ways in which we are exposed to violence. Young people who experience violence and the criminal justice system rarely access holistic services which are designed to meet their specific needs.
The Black community is disproportionately impacted
Black children appear to be disproportionately at risk of homicide compared to children in other ethnic groups. Victims from the Black community accounted for 20% of all child homicide victims in 2018. Almost half of Black homicide victims were aged between 16 to 24 years old. This disproportionality is particularly stark in London. Between 2015 - 2018, Black victims accounted for 42% of homicide victims. These statistics are used to justify harsher policing, without recognition of the disproportionate harm the criminal justice system causes to Black communities. Frequent police harassment and violence results in young Black children being over-criminalised and under-protected. They are rarely afforded victimhood. Attempts to understand violence often either ignore race altogether, or pathologise young Black boys & men, suggesting that their Blackness means they are inherently violent and aggressive. Black children and communities need more love, care and support, in response to their over-exposure to both community and state violence.
Young victims of violence 2005 - 2015
4FRONT was established in 2012 to provide a platform for young people who have been impacted by violence to create change. Since then, 4FRONT has pioneered an approach that empowers the young people most directly harmed by violence and the criminal justice system to be at the forefront of a grassroots movement for change. We fundamentally believe that there is a difference between reducing violence and building peace.
Our work centres healing and transformative justice whilst directly challenging the UK’s addiction to criminalisation, policing and prisons. This approach has been shaped and influenced by best practice from around the world. By amplifying our members' voices and advocating for a holistic approach to build peace, we have transformed the way in which society understands how to support young people who have been affected by violence and shaped the agenda around how to tackle the systemic causes of it. We support 4FRONT members to transform their own lives, whilst uplifting their voices to create change in the system.
Our work centres racial justice and empowers members to recognise their strengths and identify systemic barriers to their progress. We specialise in providing culturally specific services, tailored to meet the needs of those with experiences of violence and the criminal justice system who identify as Black (which includes those who are Black British, African, Caribbean and Mixed Heritage). We not only acknowledge the impact of racism and discrimination on our members, we actively work to dismantle these systems.