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Social groups isolation: Report of Investigation

There are many factors in communities that affect the level of security among the population. For the most part, we mean the obvious things: crime, road accidents, asocial behaviour, violation of public order, and so on. But there is something that doesn’t show right away, but may cause majority of the threats that we see on the ground.

On the photo: Uliana Shadska, head of the “Community Safety” ECHR program

 

 

What is more terrible than arms and violence? Only something, that provokes their usage – hatred, fear, and hostility. This hypothesis applies to the international, national, and local level respectfully. In the European countries, this phenomenon is called polarisation. The aggravation of relations among various social groups leads to radicalization. Conflict may start on the basis of religious or ethnic differences, social status, political and other views.

A community is a heterogeneous body, it consists of different social groups, while deprivation of any of them from full integration leads to negative consequences for all.

Are there deprived social groups in Ukrainian communities? In order to find an answer to this question, during 2018, the Expert Center for Human Rights, with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation, interviewed 1200 respondents altogether in the framework of the sociological research in Poltava and Irpin (Kiev region).

More than 80% of residents noted the presence of the selected social groups in their communities, that are considered threatening and causing fear and hatred –  the results of the study testify. Who are these people? They are drug and alcohol addicts, representatives of the national minorities, former prisoners, youngsters with deviant behaviour, and members radical groups. Residents of communities pointed out that drug addicts and drug-related crimes threaten the well-being of the population the most.

 

What does that mean?

Concerning the social tension in communities, people are willing to talk only about vulnerable groups so far. Some individuals among the inhabitants do really pose a threat, but the isolation of entire groups increases the sensation of danger. Moreover, the study revealed the existence of certain stereotypes about these groups, about the feasibility of the threats they create for residents of the community, in particular. Such ideas in the minds of residents contribute to the social distancing among various groups.

It is worth mentioning, that drug and alcohol addicts, former convicts also suffer from stigmatization, problems with employment, experience insults, physical violence and discrimination on the part of communities

“They are outcasts in society, and they are viewed as worms that interfere and corrode… they are to be destroyed. The attitude of society to these people is aggressive and implies no chance for help” (quote from the study)

 

What happens next?

The results of the study are representing the data confirming the previous hypothesis, that in order to prevent large-scale social conflicts and reduce the level of hostility in communities, the strategy for integrating of different population groups is necessary.

During 2019, the ECHR, together with partner organizations like all-Ukrainian charity organization (a-UCO)  “Konviktus” (Kyiv), Charity Organization (CO) “Light of hope” (Poltava), NGO “Club “Chance” (Sumy), held meetings and master sessions on the ground involving the representatives of the police, local self-government bodies, Regional State Administration, medical institutions, social services and public service organizations of Poltava, Sumy, and Irpin.

Participants discussed some of the facts identified by the study and conclusions about the causes and consequences of crime related to the distribution and use of drugs in particular.

 

What are the important conclusions?

Summing up the results of the discussion of the participants of the events, it was agreed, that representatives of communities view the existing and possible threats coming from social hostility. Taking into account the fact that residents view the drug crime in the first place among threats (especially in youth cells), representatives of state institutions of communities concluded to join their forces and to develop the new approaches to conflicts’ anticipating and resolution in order to prevent social conflicts.

Since criminal behavior is associated with a complex of causes and conditions, crime prevention requires intersectoral interaction in various formats: the creation of coordinating and specialized councils, working groups, and so on. The passive attitude of communities in matters of increasing criminal activity caused by the use of narcotic drugs will further lead to material and moral losses, an increase in recidivism of crimes, the spread of infectious diseases (HIV, venereal diseases), an increase in mortality and risks of infection of the population.

 

Therefore, we suggest focusing on the following areas:

 

countering drug crime — prevention of committing offenses;

public health — prevention of the spread of infectious diseases;

reduction of social aggression – improving the climate in society.

By combining these blocks into one program and developing specific measures for their implementation, an effective strategy (or part of it) for building a safe community may be created.

 

Download Report (Irpin)

Download Report (Poltava)

 

#communitysafety #countering_drug_crime #preventionofcrime #publichealth

Ulyana Shadska, Head of the Community Safety Programe

Anastasiia Apetyk, Expert on Informational Rights and Cybersafety