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Putting Offence Prevention into Practice

Project description

Treating trauma in young refugees in Europe

Unaccompanied minor asylum seekers (UMAs) have repeatedly experienced severe and traumatic stress and violence. To survive, they often had no choice but to engage in violent behaviour. Consequences include trauma-related mental suffering and heightened levels of aggression in both its reactive and appetitive forms. In terms of interventions for the related psychopathology, forensic offender rehabilitation has been successfully trialled with youth offenders in African crisis regions. The EU-funded POPP project will show that this system can also be implemented in Europe, in aid of UMAs with trauma and delinquency experiences. Ultimately, the project will demonstrate how rehabilitation can support youth with a history of trauma and aggression on the path to mental and social well-being.


Our advanced ERC grant MemoTV (Memories of Trauma and Violence) confirmed and expanded upon previous research demonstrating that early trauma history and future violent behaviour are closely associated. However, public health and community violence prevention programs continue to overlook the need to address underlying trauma among perpetrators. MemoTV uncovered that aggressive behavior is fuelled by two cycles of violence, one traumatic/aversive and one appetitive/appealing. Based on this knowledge, a treatment (FORNET) has been developed to cure related psychopathology and alter future dynamics of individual development. Substantial success in the rehabilitation of youth offenders has been shown in controlled trials, including street children, former child soldiers and youth gang members of Africa. We now want to prove for the European context that a system can be put into practice that supports unaccompanied minor refugees with trauma and delinquency experiences. The organizational structure will follow the proposal that we elaborated in the report of the German National Academy whereby peer counselors – individuals with their own history of migration – assist traumatized refugees. Through POPP (Putting Offence Prevention into Practice), we will prove that it is possible to support an increasing number of youth with a history of trauma and aggression back to mental and social well-being.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 150 000,00
78464 Konstanz

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Baden-Württemberg Freiburg Konstanz
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
No data

Beneficiaries (1)