A new research centre is to be set up to conduct "ground-breaking" research into violent behaviour in young men.
The study will look at what makes young men violent
The Centre for Young Men's Studies at the University of Ulster will look at violence among young men and devise ways of dealing with the problem.
It is being set up using a grant from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and money from Peace II funds.
Dr Ken Harland said the focus of the centre would be to get an understanding of the social issues facing young men.
The work of the centre will run over five years, tracking about 300 pupils from four secondary schools.
It aims to discover what factors influence violent behaviour in young men and how violence affects family life, relationships, education, employment and leisure.
The study will also examine what initiatives could be taken to reduce violence among young men.
Two of the schools studied will be Protestant and two Catholic.
The schools will be split between Belfast and other areas of the province.
The research will see how they progress from their first year in secondary school until Year 12 when they will be making important transitions to further education, training or work choices.
Dr Harland said: "Northern Ireland is moving from a conflict to a post-conflict situation. In many communities young men are caught up in this transition but have not been equipped to manage or cope with this transition.
"For example, many have experienced a certain status as defenders or protectors of their communities during times of conflict but now are no longer needed in that role.
"Their behaviour, once lauded and feted, has been turned on and they now become a focus for criticism, violent assault and/or expulsion from that community."
Dr Harland said that the "demonising of young people and society's propensity to panic is not new".
"The primary focus of the Centre for Young Men's Studies is to appreciate better the wide range of life issues young men have to cope with," he said.
"We aim to promote a culture of learning, development and excellence. This will be achieved through exploring new ways of engaging young men, training practitioners and action research."