Portland State University Participatory Research class

Capstone Students:  MacKenzie Laurion, James Kenion, Claire Renter, Rachel Higgins, and Kari Heidegger


This report contains research findings from the minutes taken during breakout sessions at the 2013 Rob Ingram Youth Summit Against Violence. Its purpose is to organize qualitative data in order to disseminate the findings in a productive and meaningful way. In this report you will find our method of research, which consisted of looking at context, actors, and stories of violence. We then summarize commonalities across each form of violence using our method. This report also includes further questions that were raised at the summit and for us during our research on the breakout sessions. 


In order to use the qualitative data that was recorded at the summit, (personal stories about how the different kinds of violence have affected attendees), as well as the quantitative clicker poll results, we as a class reviewed the stories and pulled out information that we felt was important.

The three kinds of information that we looked for were the context of the situation (physical locations, as well as climates/events leading up to, general feelings, etc.), the actors (people involved, what they are doing/not doing), and the stories (the explanations people involved have for what’s going on/who wins/who loses and what should be done/opinions and theories). We thought that by pulling these kinds of information from the summit stories and then looking for commonalities in the responses, we could then establish patterns that would need to be addressed. For example, in many of the personal stories, teachers were often listed as actors who were bystanders to violence, either not seeing it going on, or refusing to acknowledge it or do something. Because this came up so much, one can gather that having more involved and aware teachers could be really helpful to youth who experience violence at school. Another example that showed a prevalent response had to do with restorative justice; all the respondents who spoke about restorative justice had positive things to say and thought that they were finally getting a chance to explain their behavior and talk about how they felt.                                    

Reviewing personal stories and collecting data from them is more difficult than reviewing survey answers because it involves a lot of consideration and thought to the other person’s situation, and getting the correct information from what they are saying as well. I feel like it’s easier to become biased collecting this kind of data because it can allow you to have feeling about the person/situation you are reading about, but it shouldn’t be ignored because this kind of data is extremely useful.

Summary of Commonalities

After reviewing the summits summary and findings, commonalities become easily identifiable. In terms of context or where violence is prevalent, schools seemed to have come up a lot. This might be an area where we need to focus our attention in delivering a message. There were some other areas in terms of context too, like public transportation when speaking about police and gang violence, or at home when talking about home violence and cyber bullying. In terms of actors, some of the most frequent actors in violence are teachers, bullies, classmates and unhelpful bystanders. Anyone causing the violence, being a victim of violence or enabling violence to occur is an actor. Some trends across the explanations category include lack of support, self-blame, and shame.

An outlet for violence is much need and more support would help deter violence as well as help victims of violence speak out against it. Shame is also playing a big part in stopping people from seeking help, which means the shamed population of victims is most likely going unnoticed and the violence they are experience may be unreported or documented in the breakout sessions.

Further Questions

1. How can police be more supportive in their approach to helping Multnomah County youth and how can they help youth to have a better understanding of laws that affect them directly?

2. Why are police present, and viewed as an ally in some communities, but thought of as absent and unhelpful in others?

3. Is it possible for raves and underage clubs to be considered safe? How?

4. How can comprehensive sex education be implemented further into curriculum? Specifically, the LGBTQ youth community in attendance raised the idea of including gender and sexuality as part of this education.

5. Why are males less interested in communicating about (or focusing on) dating violence? How can we shift the focus of “blaming the victim” to teaching men and women how to respect one another and how to not rape or commit sexual and dating violence?

6. Who do young people feel comfortable talking to about home violence? The home violence reports were lacking in stories. We felt that this may have had something to do with the presence of Mandatory Reporters. Can we strategize another way to collect stories in a way that helps support our research and makes the youth feel safe?

7. Could "bullies" be acting out because of some other form of violence in their lives? Are bullies victims too?

8. Why are community organizations missing from the conversation about violence? Are youth aware of organizations in Multnomah County that are specifically designed to support youth (for instance, the gay-straight alliance)?


In all of our research on the breakout sessions from the 2013 Rob Ingram Youth Summit Against Violence, we noted a lack of support from adults. Youth feel as though they do not have a place to turn and no safe place to disclose ongoing violence, nor do they feel supported or safe after sharing the information. The youth describe feeling victimized by police, and parents don’t seem to be a resource either. Further research on the forms of violence will help adults and youth understand how often youth experience each form of violence, and how complicated this can be to navigate as a youth. Further research will also expand our knowledge of the individuals themselves and provide direct insight into the issues of youth violence.