Changing course with SW!TCH

Names have been changed to protect those involved.

Samuel first came to us by a referral from a Local Authority Community Safety Team. He had been involved in numerous incidents in the borough and had built quite a reputation for fighting and violent outbursts.

Around the same time, we received a referral for Joshua, another young person in the same borough. We quickly learned that he had a history with Samuel – an altercation between the two had ended in Samuel assaulting the boy’s girlfriend. And then we learned of his response: he had arranged for a member of a local gang to attack Samuel. Thankfully, Joshua was willing to share the location and time of the attack with us.

Fearing that this situation could escalate and someone could end up in hospital, or worse, we suggested that we could mediate a truce between him and Samuel – and he agreed.

We contacted Samuel’s parents, providing them with details of the planned attack on their son. However, this contact raised further concerns. Samuel’s father was focused on getting information on the boy who planned to harm his son, seemingly to take matters into his own hands. We were able to defuse the situation and set an appointment to meet with the family.

On the day of the planned attack, we deployed a team of outreach workers to the intended location. Unexpectedly, Samuel arrived with his father and father’s friends. Like our previous encounter, the father remained hostile and confronted our team. The situation was tense, with Samuel’s group seemingly intent on resolving this situation in a violent manner. When the attackers never arrived, the group eventually decided to leave.

With the date of the attack passed, it was time for our meeting with Samuel’s family.

Once again, Samuel’s father was exceedingly hostile, and continually pressed for more information about the perpetrator of the attack. Not allowing the father to control the conversation, our worker turned to Samuel and asked him to consider who he knew that would want to hurt him. It was then that Samuel admitted that he had been in lots of altercations recently, and that his potential assailant could be one of the many boys he had clashed with. Seizing this information, our worker was able to engage with the father and show him that, not only was his son not an innocent party, but he also had a pattern of behavioural issues as well.

Faced with this new perspective on his son, the father reluctantly agreed for us to continue working with his son, and for us to conduct the meditation between the two boys.

Samuel is currently engaging well with his worker, taking part in discussions on the consequences of violence and revenge. It’s still early days, but he’s already shown to be willing to grow – he’s now considering the consequences of his actions and slowly but surely maturing.

Anthony Stewart

Anthony Stewart

Anthony is manager for the SW!TCH Lives team.