Children who offend and enter the youth justice system must be treated as children first and foremost, according to a criminology expert at Edge Hill University.
Criminologist Dr Sean Creaney has released a new evidence-based report that recommends how Youth Justice Services can help to improve the life chances of children by involving them in the decisions that affect their lives.
The report includes resources for professionals working across the 154 Youth Offending Teams in England and Wales on how to best involve children in the delivery of their services.
Dr Creaney has co-authored the report, commissioned by the Youth Justice Board, in partnership with social justice charity Peer Power– an empathy-led charity focussed on healing trauma and creating individual and system change.
Dr Creaney, a Senior Lecturer in Psychosocial Analysis of Offending Behaviour, said: “We hope this report will be a useful resource to inform and inspire professionals working in the youth justice sector on how meaningful engagement with children can maximise positive outcomes for all involved.”
In early 2021, the Youth Justice Board commissioned Peer Power to explore how well youth justice services listen and respond to the views of children and young people.
As a result, this report has been written and developed to enable children to co-create practice and understand their rights.
Dr Creaney, who is a board member of Peer Power and an advisory member of the Research Centre for Arts and Wellbeing at Edge Hill, added: “Children have the right to a voice. Our reports and resources provide guidance to professionals on how to utilise creative approaches to promote children’s participatory rights, meaningfully engage children in designing services and maximise positive outcomes.
“I hope the resources we have co-produced are useful for professionals to learn about and reflect on how best to involve children in the commissioning, design, delivery and evaluation of services”.
Anne-Marie Douglas, CEO and Founder, Peer Power, said: “Dr Creaney’s knowledge of theory and lived experience guided the research in such a thoughtful way. With co-created questions and a collective deep dive of the results, Dr Creaney and the team listened actively to our young people, which is an absolute priority for us.
“This research helped us to co-create a variety of resources intended for Youth Justice Services, but the knowledge we gained through this process means they’ll have a valuable application over many areas of our work.”
Dr Creaney’s report builds on Professor Stephen Case and Ann Browning’s report Child First Justice: The research evidence-base. The report explores the importance of encouraging child participation is fundamental to a ‘child first’ approach to youth justice.
Are you eager to make a difference? Criminology at Edge Hill is a great place to start, whether you want to focus on this area alone or one of our Criminology and Offending programmes. Our students go on to work in a variety of fields such as youth justice, welfare rights and research.