The Inner Harbor Project is off to a terrific start! On Monday, we talked about what we know and what we want to know. (One of the premises of the project is that the students are already insiders so we don’t need to spend precious time learning the culture of our target research space.) Turns out they know a lot.
We talked a lot about the motivations behind youth on youth violence. The students said that the perpetrators of youth violence are what they call “clout chasers,” individuals who are trying to get attention any way they can. Everyone seemed to disagree with the characterization that the violence was caused by gangs. They referred to groups of youth as crews or developing gangs. They said they’re just groups of kids, mostly 14-16 year olds who get together to hang out. Although some crews have entrance requirements like physically challenging an existing member of the crew, they don’t come close to the harsh demands on recruits of more violent gangs.
Another thing students noted is that those who are fighting would find a time/place to fight, no matter what. However, the decision to meet in the Harbor is new. It used to be White Marsh Mall or other places in the county. Everyone seemed to have their own explanation for why the Harbor has become central but agreed this is one question we need to research.
Where most researchers start at point A and hope to get to C or D, we’re already starting at B. These students have so much knowledge about this highly discussed and polarized issue because they are living it. And it is this advantage, which I believe will lead to our success.