Though interpersonal violence is widely studied, much less has been done to understand structural violence, the often-invisible patterns of inequality that reproduce social relations of exclusion and marginalization through ideologies, policies, stigmas, and discourses attendant to gender, race, class, and other markers of social identity. Structural violence normalizes experiences like poverty, ableism, sexual harassment, racism, and colonialism, and erases their social and political origins. The legal structures that provide impunity for those who exploit youth are also part of structural violence’s machinery.
Working with Indigenous, queer, immigrant and homeless youth across Canada, this five-year Youth-based Participatory Action Research project used art to explore the many ways that structural violence harms youth, destroying hope, optimism, a sense of belonging and a connection to civil society. However, recognizing that youth are not merely victims, Everyday Violence in the Lives of Youth also examines the various ways youth respond to and resist this violence to preserve their dignity, well-being and inclusion in society.