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:: Children First, Offenders Second approach to Youth Justice ::

13 Oct 2021

Children have a special place in society and deserve special treatment due to their lack of maturity, their relative powerlessness in decision-making processes, and the need for adults to provide them with support and protection.


Most young people in custody have had childhoods marked by neglect and disadvantage. Locking them up is no solution to offending. It is a double punishment: first, by having very difficult childhoods; then, by being locked up, often for not very serious crimes. Prison is often seen as a deterrent, but for these young people, it clearly isn't. It is just the last in a long series of bad experiences in which family and state have failed to protect them from harm and steer them out of trouble. If offending by children is to be effectively tackled, their welfare needs must be addressed.


Nearly ¾ of young people released from custody will be reconvicted within 1 year of their release.


Of those in custody, half are imprisoned for non-violent offences.


Children First, Offenders Second is a positive approach to youth justice that is built on a set of policy and practice principles, the key to which is to treat children in child-friendly and child-appropriate ways.


Elsewhere in Europe, the age of criminal responsibility is trending upward because it is recognised that criminalising children at a young age can have lasting damaging consequences. Criminal labels change the way people are seen and can stick for life. Labeling children as criminal is often counter-productive.


If you require legal advice and assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us at our city centre offices Carlin Solicitors Ltd, Titanic Suites, 55-59 Adelaide Street, Belfast, BT2 8FE.


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