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The None in Three team at the University of Huddersfield

None in Three: A centre for the development, application, research and evaluation of pro-social games for the prevention of gender-based violence

One in three women will experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime. The new £4.6 million None in Three (Ni3) research centre challenges the idea that violence to women is an inevitability.

The research centre may be the first in the world to explore the potential of computer games as an educational tool to reduce levels of violence against women and children, and has been established at the University of Huddersfield.

Ni3 was awarded £4.3 million from the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund and the University of Huddersfield’s own research fund has contributed an extra £0.3 million.

Innovative approach

Professor Adele Jones attending a Ni3 training course in Barbados
Professor Adele Jones attending a Ni3 training course in Barbados

Working on a global scale, with close links with experts and campaigners in China, Jamaica, India and Uganda as well as the UK, Ni3 brings together specialists from a range of disciplines. These include the social sciences and computer technology and experts, who will collaborate on the research and development of a ‘pro-social’ computer game tailored to the priorities of the participating countries. For example the focus in the UK will be violence in adolescent relationships.

Colleagues from the School of Human and Health Sciences working on the project under Professor Adele Jones’ leadership include: Professor Daniel Boduszek (Co-Investigator), Gill Kirkman (Country Director), Dr Graham Gibbs, Dr Dominic Willmott, Dr Christopher Retzler, Vikki Hart, Paul Dagg, Jonathan Collett and Ramy Hammady. The Ni3 Centre is a cross-University collaboration with colleagues from the School of Education and Professional Development (Professor Paul Miller and Dr Eugenia Katartzi) and the School of Art, Design and Architecture (Dr Anna Powell and Professor Song Wu).

Alongside other centre partners in the UK and Barbados, there are also new posts being advertised for postgraduate researchers and games developers to join the Centre. The Ni3 collaborators in China, Jamaica, India and Uganda will recruit their own teams.

Ni3 launch

Mikael Barford
Mikael Barford

The official launch event for Ni3 in November 2017 featured a keynote address by the EU’s former ambassador to the Eastern Caribbean, Mikael Barford, who has taken a close interest in the issue of gender-based violence and the work of Professor Adele Jones at the Ni3 research centre at the University of Huddersfield. Dr Agata Debowska, a psychology lecturer at the University of Sheffield, also spoke. The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield, Professor Bob Cryan made closing remarks and declared the centre open.

Professor Adele Jones
Professor Adele Jones

The project will include both qualitative and quantitative research in each country in order to understand some of the social and cultural drivers of gender-based violence in the five countries. This research will then inform the development of a computer game for each country.

There will be a systematic review of studies into gender-based violence in each country and this will enable the development of a survey designed to assess the attitudes of children and young people to violence. It will also be used to measure the effectiveness of children’s exposure to computer game intervention.

“We have to make sure that each computer game is culturally and socially appropriate and that it addresses the range of issues that have been identified in our research,” said Professor Jones. “The project has been funded for its first four years, but the intention is that it will be a permanent research centre with overseas collaborations.”

 

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Protecting the children of Tanzania and Zanzibar

In 2011, UNICEF commissioned an extensive study of violence against children in Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar revealing alarmingly high levels of physical, emotional and sexual violence against children. In 2014 The Centre for Applied Childhood Youth and Family Research at the University of Huddersfield was commissioned by UNICEF Tanzania to undertake a follow up study exploring the role of Knowledge Attitudes and Practices that give rise to violence against children.

Expertise at Huddersfield

The Centre for Applied Childhood Youth and Family Research has an established international reputation in research concerning violence and abuse against children as well as participatory action research with children and communities.

Developing a deeper understanding to inform policy and programming

The aim of the study was to gain a better understanding of the drivers of violence against children and the possibilities for developing a protective environment for children. The overall purpose of the research is to inform policy and programme development whilst at the same time build capacity at a local level through community engagement.

International collaboration

The study was undertaken between October 2014 and December 2015 in 10 regions across mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar and involved a collaboration with Mzumbe University in Tanzania. A team of 10 researchers from Mzumbe University and 20 community researchers from each of the 10 regions were trained by University of Huddersfield staff to undertake the field work.

Community action research

The research was conducted in two phases. The first phase involved focus groups with children, parents, community leaders and professionals in each region. The second phase involved a community action research process involving a total of 60 research workshops. Action research is a different sort of research. Instead of collecting data, action research involves a process of ‘learning for change’ in which participants critically reflect on their own values and practices in order to consider possibilities for change. In this research, issues and questions emerging from the focus groups were explored further in a participatory appraisal process to map attitudes and practices in the community. Parents and community leaders then engaged in critical reflection and dialogue in response to findings, with a view to exploring possibilities for developing a protective environment for children.

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[Image caption: Adults involved in participatory appraisal of values and practices relating to violence against children]

Giving children and young people a voice

In parallel to the adult community action research groups, participatory research with children and young people aged 11-18 years was undertaken in each area. The voices of children are often overlooked in Tanzania, so in this study emphasis was placed on ensuring children and young people had an opportunity to share their views and experiences of violence.

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[Image caption: Young people working together to map violence in their community]

Policy and programme development

UNICEF along with other NGOs (non-governmental organisations) is working with the government in Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar to improve child protection. In January 2016 two national workshops were facilitated by the University of Huddersfield during which national stakeholders engaged with the findings from the study and discussed implications for policy and programme development. Findings from this study will feed into the next 10 year strategy to reduce violence against children in Tanzania. At the same time emphasis was placed on building capacity at a local level by engaging community members and local stakeholders as research partners and agents of change. Their role is to activate learning and development at a local level to respond to violence against children.

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[Image caption: National stakeholders engaging with research findings]

Future research

A subsequent proposal has been submitted to the Oak Foundation for a study of Healthy Relationships in Adolescence, which is a participatory action research project with young people to develop preventative strategies in response to sexual abuse and exploitation.

This project consolidates the reputation of the Centre for Applied Childhood Youth and Family Research for high quality research in the field of child abuse and exploitation.

For further information contact the project leader:

Professor Barry Percy-Smith
Email: b.percy-smith@hud.ac.uk