Rowdyism, vandalism or verbal and physical assaults by juveniles in communities and small towns are a constant and serious concern. Not only is this delinquent behaviour a threat for residents, in particular for single persons or for other young people, but it also results in high costs for the community. Mayors and other responsible parties on a local level are looking for solutions on how to counter problems with youth violence.
Both control measures and exercising hierarchical authority are failing, because young people find alternatives – thus the problem only shifts. There are no reproducible models. The citizens concerned develop a feeling of inability to take action and avoid to get in contact with young people, which makes the situation even worse.
The project “Courage in local communities” will develop a prototype of a reproducible model that enables municipalities to cope with youth problems, to gain ability to act and to promote social cohesion. “Courage in local communities” works according to the concept of “New Authority”. This means non-violent authority that sets clear limits. The adults responsible in a municipality and those concerned by violence form a network and as a group they establish communication with the groups of young people. In addition to that training and support is offered. This concept proved very efficient in schools. The innovation consists in (1) transferring the model to municipalities and (2) linking it with an IT system to support the municipalities in gathering and evaluating incidents, establish communication between the local community members and maintaining overview (e.g. producing management reports). Data confidentiality will be an important factor.
The project “Courage in local communities” will conduct needs studies, develop a strategy and IT component, test them in municipalities, evaluate the results and elaborate a prototype which can also be used in other municipalities. An Austria-wide event and trainings in municipalities are planned as well. For this purpose six partners are cooperating: an economic partner who wants to spread the model and include it in their service portfolio, a scientific partner who will adapt the model to the needs by using a product development methodology, a scientific IT development partner, a socio-scientific partner who will evaluate acceptance and success, and two public agencies with a requirement (district police headquarters of Linz-Land, municipality of Ansfelden) that will help to integrate the model and that want to solve local youth problems at issue together.
The result of the project will be a tool kit that enables municipalities to start the process. It is expected that after further adaptations the prototype can be used in about 5000 municipalities (or quarters in bigger municipalities) in Austria, Swiss and Germany. For spreading the model, the economic partner will use a franchise system. It is expected that with the help of this model damage due to vandalism can be cut down to 50 % in a lasting way. Damage through the devaluation of real estate can be reduced. The population’s subjective perception of security increases, which benefits especially women, senior citizens and young people / children, making the municipality secure and worth living. Cooperation and networking with the civil society will trigger the effectiveness of police work.
Projektmanager: Mag.a Bettina Lancaster / STUDIA-Schlierbach Studienzentrum für Internationale Analysen
Listing of further project partners:
GenMjr Franz Gegenleitner, BA MA / Bundesministerium für Inneres
Mag.a Elisabeth Kumpl-Frommel / SPES GmbH
Hans Steinkellner, MSc / Institut für Neue Autorität Steinkellner & Ofner OG
Günter Kienböck, MAS/ Jugendbüro / Stadtgemeinde Ansfelden
Prof. Dr. Grischa Schmiedl / Fachhochschule St. Pölten Forschungs GmbH
Dipl.-Math Wolfgang Baaske
A-4553 Schlierbach, Panoramaweg 1
Tel: 0043 7582 81981-95