In 2017 some 1,700 young people were sentenced to be incarcerated, and around 70% will have problems with their mental health.
Alex Lloyd is a born and bred Londoner from Wapping, and although only in his mid-twenties—he‘s already a lecturer in Psychology at Birkbeck University London and the University of East London.
Alex has been working with young offenders from Hackney and Islington in his role as Community Panel Member of their youth offending team. He engages with young convicted offenders to help them action their community-based sentences, with an objective to help them repair the harm caused by their crime in a process called Restorative Justice.
In his role as lecturer, he continues to conduct research on adolescent risk behavior and its link to antisocial tendencies with a focus on making his findings and research actionable and applied to real world.
I first met Alex when he gave his impassioned TedX London talk earlier this summer, and his desire to make London a better and safer place for all came through loud and clear.
“What we essentially know is that young people are going to try and push boundaries, it’s about giving them the setting to do that safely—and without negative consequences for themselves.”[8:33]
In Alex’s TedX talk he explains brain neuroplasticity—the nature of brains to rewire themselves over time due to specific circumstances, behaviors, and life events. The brains of trauma victims are demonstrably different from non-trauma victims, something that has been tested and detected through use of FMRI technology that maps the flow of blood in the brain. The reactions, temperament, and choices ones make can be influenced by this change in brain physiology—triggered by neglect, sexual abuse, and a host of mental health issues and other life events.
Currently, adolescents and youths involved in crime don’t have trauma factored into their trials, punishments, or rehabilitation. Alex has been working hard to make the issue of trauma at the forefront of the discussion about moving forward with how we deal with troubled youth as a society. This ranges from preventative measures such as getting youths engaged in their community—something highlighted by the Dragon Hall Innovation and Technology Hub; a center where any youth can walk in and have access to 3D printers, VR technology, and learn to code and engage with up and coming technologies that aren’t fully positioned and staffed in society yet.
“It’s not just the case that we can describe one rule for why people get into crime.”
Alex is also a huge proponent of the Restorative Justice Framework—an idea that those who commit crimes and the victims of those crimes can benefit from communicating after the fact. The ideal outcome is for apologies and reparations to be given to the victims of the crime by the one who perpetrated it. It’s an incredibly powerful tool when a youth has to contend with the personal individual nature of their crime—something they may not have considered when they either vandalized property or engaged in other illegal behaviors that they may see as only hurting society at large, not an individual.
Alex is continuing down his path of helping youth engage in their communities by finishing his PhD—and he is set on making sure his research goes out and effects public policy, societal awareness, and gives troubled youth a foothold to make positive change in their lives.