Recruiting Participants

In total, 69 young people, aged between 13 and 19, took part in focus group discussions for the From Boys to Men project. Seven focus groups were conducted in educational settings: four in schools where young people had received domestic abuse prevention education; two within a project providing alternative education to those excluded from mainstream schooling; and one among young men receiving anger management support within school. Six further focus groups were conducted in community-based settings. The intention was to recruit young men with potentially distinctive relationships towards violence and intimate relationships. The participants of each focus group are listed in a table that can be found on the Research page under the Phase 2 section.

School-based participants

Participants were recruited for school-based focus groups by approaching the schools that had been involved in Phase 1 of the research. Four groups were conducted in two of the˜intervention schools, that is, schools in which young people had received the educational programme Relationships without Fear (RwF).

The recruitment process


Four school-based focus groups were conducted with pupils who had received domestic abuse education (RwF), two were all male groups and two were a mixture of males and females. A fifth school-based group was conducted with young men receiving anger management support in one of the control schools (i.e. schools where pupils participated in the phase 1 survey, but that did not offer the RwF intervention). The same consent procedures were followed except only the boys in the support group were approached to take part.

Participants from non-school settings

A further eight focus groups were conducted from non-school settings. Two one all male and one all female were conducted in a project providing alternative education to young people not in mainstream schooling. Six community-based groups were then recruited with the aim to engage with young men who may have specific relationships with violence and domesticity. These groups were selected on advice from the research project’s steering committee and included groups with gay young men; South Asian young men; young men under Youth Offending Team (YOT) supervision with a history of violence towards their girlfriends; young men attending a substance use programme; young men who had witnessed violence at home; and young men under YOT supervision on a group work programme.

The recruitment process

Recruiting participants for these groups presented the researchers with significant challenges and required the cooperation of key individuals in organisations that worked with young people. To aid recruitment, the aim, wherever possible, was to conduct the research with preexisting groups and at a time when participants were accustomed to coming together in a certain place. Therefore, all focus groups took place wherever participants normally met as a group (or at least where they had accessed a service on an individual basis) and were conducted when a key worker was present in the building.  Nonetheless, attempts to recruit certain groups of young people in care/care leavers, victims of domestic violence, young people living in temporary accommodation proved unsuccessful. When recruiting for both school and community-based groups, the aim was to over-recruit to allow for the inevitability of  no shows. The final groups recruited ranged from three to eight participants.

The use of incentives is a common practice when organising focus groups (Stewart et al., 2006). On advice from members of a local Youth Parliament and from those working with young people, small incentives were offered for young people to take part in a focus group. Prospective participants were told that they would be offered drinks and snacks during the group and that there would be a raffle at the end for one participant to win a £10 gift voucher. While this offered something in return for their participation, the limited value of these incentives meant that they did not create a significant incentive to participate that might be deemed coercive.