Not so different
Teenage attitudes across a decade of change in Northern Ireland
Edited by Dirk Schubotz and Paula Devine

Not yet published. Due February 2014.

"Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. If, however, they are left on society's margins, all of us will be impoverished." Kofi Annan.

Based on data collected by Young Life and Times - the longest running annual cross-sectional attitude survey among any of the UK or Ireland's young people - this book is a rich resource for anyone interested in teenagers' attitudes and viewpoints over the last decade.

It builds on the editors' previous publication Young people in post-conflict Northern Ireland, (RHP, 2008) but focuses mostly on data collected since then. While the young people who replied to the survey are likely to have come across some form of sectarianism, they have no active memory of the worst conflict-related atrocities. Thus, they can be regarded as the first post-conflict generation.

But, whilst growing up in a society coming out of conflict sets adolescents from Northern Ireland apart from their counterparts in other parts of the UK and Ireland, a 16 year-old in Belfast also deals with the same issues that teenagers face elsewhere. They experience negativity in the media and in their neighbourhoods and are much more associated - either as perpetrators or victims - with substance misuse, violence, promiscuity, risk-taking and anti-social behaviour than with the positive contribution they make to society, for example as volunteers, informal carers, or as creative artists.

Featuring contributions from academics and social policy makers, all nationally and internationally recognised experts in their fields, it explores:
  • perceptions of, and attitudes to, community relations
  • rights and democratic participation, specifically the extent to which young people have been involved in meaningful decision making and in what contexts; and the effects participation has on their happiness in school and on their health in general
  • mental health, including self-harm and suicidal ideation, and its relation to social work policy and practice
  • loneliness, and how it relates to the mental health and wellbeing of young people
  • play and leisure activities, and inhibiting factors, and the link with young people's overall sense of who they are their personal development
  • sexual grooming and sexual exploitation
  • the positive contributions that 16 year olds make to society through volunteering.

  • This record of their coming of age is of significant importance in Northern Ireland, as well as in other communities looking to move on from past struggles. A chapter by 16 year-old Ewan Nixon also illustrates the challenges facing young people everywhere. Highlighting the influential role that adults can have on adolescents, both positively and negatively, at times when they struggle to find their own space in an adult dominated world, it is a powerful reminder of why we must all listen.

    Paperback. About 160 pages. 978-1-905541-92-8. Due February 2014. £14.95.


  • Students, lecturers, researchers and policymakers in education, youth work, social work, community work, social policy, politics
  • Practitioners and managers in these same areas who strive to work holistically with children and young people in all aspects of their lives
  • Anyone interested in contemporary Northern Ireland
  • Anyone with a special interest in children and young people in post-conflict and/or segregated societies.


    Foreword Patricia Lewsley Mooney, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People

    Introduction Dirk Schubotz & Paula Devine, both of Queen's University Belfast

    What a difference a decade makes - or does it? Community relations in Northern Ireland Paula Devine

    Rights and democratic participation: a review of evidence from YLT 1998 to 2012 Katrina Lloyd, Queen's University Belfast, & Dirk Schubotz

    Help seeking and support for young people's mental health Gavin Davidson, Queen's University Belfast

    Adolescent loneliness in Northern Ireland Mark Shevlin & Siobhan Murphy

    Play matters Jacqueline O’Loughlin

    Sexual exploitation and sexual violence in adolescence Helen Beckett, University of Bedfordshire

    Generation XYZ - to be or not to be a volunteer? Wendy Osborne & Christine Irvine, both of Volunteer Now

    A 16 year old's perspective on living in Northern Ireland Ewan Nixon


    Paula Devine
    is Deputy Director of ARK and is based at the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen's University Belfast.

    Dirk Schubotz is Young Life and Times Director of ARK. He is lecturer in Social Policy at the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen's University Belfast.


    Helen Beckett
    is Deputy Director of the International Centre for the Study of Sexually Exploited and Trafficked Young People at the University of Bedfordshire.

    Gavin Davidson is lecturer in Social Work and is based at the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen's University Belfast.

    Christine Irvine is Senior Policy and Information Officer at Volunteer Now.

    Patricia Lewsley Mooney is Northern Ireland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People.

    Katrina Lloyd is Kids' Life and Times Director of ARK. She is lecturer at the School of Education at Queen's University Belfast.

    Siobhan Murphy is PhD student of Psychology at the University of Ulster.

    Ewan Nixon was a respondent to the 2012 Young Life and Times survey. He was 16 years of age at the time. He currently is a final year student at Lagan College, Northern Ireland's first and longest established planned integrated school.

    Jacqueline O’Loughlin is Chief Executive of PlayBoard, Northern Ireland’s leading NGO for Play.

    Wendy Osborne (OBE) is Chief Executive of Volunteer Now.

    Mark Shevlin is Professor at the School of Psychology at the University of Ulster.