“You See the Very Sharp Edge of the Problems of Prejudice in Town”: Youth Service Providers’ Perceptions of a Regional Community Facebook Group

Sarah Clifford, James A. Smith, Benjamin Christie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The prolific growth of social media in recent years has provided new forums which allow engagement in local town discussions; particularly via community Facebook groups. This study seeks to understand the role of community Facebook groups in a regional town in the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia; particularly how they are used to portray youth, and their relevance to a grassroots youth justice reinvestment process. This research arose due to direct concern from a community working group. Seventeen semi-structured interviews, with 18 participants, were conducted with service providers in Katherine, NT. The data was then inductively thematically analyzed, resulting in six themes: staying informed in a regional context; vilifying youth and combating this; racism; impact on youth; tensions in positioning youth: right versus left; and adopting a strengths-based approach to youth. Community Facebook groups were noted as an important factor for staying informed in a remote context. As a key medium within the town, Facebook groups should be considered a source of community discussion and an appropriate avenue to influence community opinion. The racialization of community discussions about “problem youth” indicates a segregation issue in the town, which has been noted for many years. Community education and the promotion of the youth justice work currently being implemented in the town were considered key in changing mindsets and ultimately behaviors. Importantly, research and community development programs alike should consider the community Facebook group as a medium for positive social action.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Media and Society
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • community Facebook groups
  • community perceptions
  • justice reinvestment
  • youth justice

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