By KLTV Newsdesk –
The West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) has unveiled a groundbreaking report outlining innovative strategies aimed at safeguarding young people and preventing their involvement in violence.
Commissioned by the VRU, research conducted by Rocket Science focused on school absence, exclusion, special education needs (SEN), and neurodiversity.
Neurodiversity, a concept encompassing diverse ways individuals perceive and engage with the world, took centre stage in the study.
The comprehensive report, now available for public perusal, presents three critical recommendations for addressing the issue:
- Improved Systems
- Mentoring and/or Peer Mentoring
- Early Intervention Support
These recommendations are founded on local studies that have consistently suggested a correlation between high levels of school exclusion among individuals with neurodiverse conditions or SEN and an increased risk of involvement in violence.
Chief Superintendent Jackie Marsh, Director of the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit, expressed her optimism about the report’s findings, stating they would shape policies and procedures within local schools.
She emphasised the need for meaningful support that avoids duplicating existing initiatives. Marsh acknowledged the association between exclusion rates, suspensions, and absences with current systems, structures, and cultures.
However, she remained hopeful that the report’s recommendations would pave the way for a brighter future for West Yorkshire’s young population, particularly those who are neurodiverse or have additional needs.
Dr James Ward, representing research partners Rocket Science, highlighted the wide-ranging efforts already underway across West Yorkshire to enhance support for neurodivergent young people.
Despite these efforts, Dr Ward noted that many of these individuals still experience feelings of being misunderstood, isolated, and overlooked by services that fail to align with their future aspirations.
Nevertheless, the research findings provide cause for optimism, as the groundwork has been laid to effect positive change. Dr Ward called for a national response to address systemic issues, ensuring equal opportunities through adequate resource allocation.
The West Yorkshire VRU’s report sheds light on the pressing issue of keeping young people engaged in education while shielding them from harm.
The recommendations outlined therein have the potential to revolutionise the educational landscape in the region and serve as a catalyst for broader nationwide reform.