Chapter 3: Taking Responsibility: Breaking Away from Hate and Violence
Judy Korn VIOLENCE PREVENTION NETWORK 3.1 The Violence Prevention Network (VPN), founded in 2005 in Germany, has developed a novel pedagogy of responsibility that lowers recidivism among juvenile oﬀenders motivated by racist and religious prejudice. The target group of the VPN programme, Verantwortung übernehmen – Abschied von Hass und Gewalt (Taking responsibility – breaking away from hate and violence), are male oﬀenders1 who have been put in prison due to aggravated acts of violence, and who justify these acts by drawing on extreme right, ethnocentric or cultural-religious2 patterns of justiﬁcation. The VPN approach combines political education and anti-violence pedagogy in a comprehensive training programme. The in-prison training programme is followed by a ‘real-life test’ out of prison, during which the participants are accompanied by their trainers for up to a year. Moreover, the adolescents’ relatives are integrated into the programme so as to secure a social network after release from prison. The VPN asks adolescents to question not only their acts of violence, but also their justiﬁcations of these acts; they have to examine how their justiﬁcations draw on political, ideological and religious convictions and the social ties usually coming with these convictions. Only when they examine in detail their oﬀence are juvenile oﬀenders able to search for alternatives. After examination, the usual excuses and patterns of justiﬁcation lose their validity. The pedagogy of responsibility is based on humanistic principles. The philosophy of the programme is to establish dialogue and to ask questions. Rather...
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