It’s not about the offending!

A new approach to youth justice...

This week the Youth Justice Board published it’s annual stats report.

There’s good news again – fewer kids in prison, and fewer in the system generally.

Photo courtesy of ©123rf/Bram Janssens

But we still have a re-offending rate of 37.9% – pretty much the same as last year (and still a good bit higher than it was 10 years ago!)

Here’s how we might fix it…

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Kids With Harmful Sexual Behaviour

Keeping victim experiences central...

Before I left my specialist position working with harmful sexual behaviour full time, we’d dealt with over 800 cases.

That teaches you a thing or two about how the whole thing works!

Photo courtesy of ©123rf/Nagy-Bagoly Ilona

Photo courtesy of ©123rf/Nagy-Bagoly Ilona (adapted)

One lesson that stands out…

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For the love of statistics!

How data-gathering undermines the work...

In my view, agency (& government) obsession with data-gathering has gone too far.

The method is wrong, the emphasis is wrong, the outcomes are wrong. So what’s to be done?

Image courtesy of ©123rf/sellingpix (adapted)

Image courtesy of ©123rf/sellingpix (adapted)

How numbers are replacing people…

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Secure care

10 practice tips...

My few years working in secure residential child care was probably the steepest learning curve of my career to date.

It is a unique hot-house of challenge and delights.

Image courtesy of ©123rf/Haessig Jérémy

Image courtesy of ©123rf/Haessig Jérémy

So how can we do it better?

There are lessons here for everybody…

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Gang members: hidden victims?…

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/ monkeybusinessimages

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/ monkeybusinessimages

Gangs are a bit scary. Kids in gangs certainly don’t look like victims.

In fact the word “gang” itself evokes images of violent young people, up to no good and creating victims of crime.

We know there’s more to it than that.

For instance gang members have higher than normal rates of mental health issues. But new research suggests that gang-affiliated young people may have a lot more to lose than their mental health.

The hidden victims in gangs…

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Custody for kids: good & bad. Part 2…

Prison gates

Photo ©Jonny Matthew

In our last post on this subject, we looked at some of the system problems currently at play in the world of youth justice.

Specifically in the kind of secure provision for children who end up in custody.

We showed that closing beds in secure children’s homes is counter-productive. And that building a massive secure college makes no sense and has now, thankfully, been abandoned.

So what next?

A closer look at what the children’s custodial system must do if it is to succeed in its mission…

How to reduce re-offending by children leaving custody…

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Custody for kids: good and bad. Part 1…

Photo courtesy of ©123rf/Nigel Spooner

Photo courtesy of ©123rf/Nigel Spooner

The latest youth justice statistics present both good and bad news.

Numbers in custody are down. But instances of restraint and self-harm have increased.

In these austere times, and in any other times, fewer kids in prison is a good thing. But each young person is a lot more than a unit cost to the state. They’re not “prisoners”, they’re not “inmates”; they’re not even “young offenders.”

They are children first, offenders second.

There are some lessons the government and the secure estate need to learn in order to better serve young people.

Lessons for the secure estate…

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Child first, offender second…

Why it matters...

Boy in handcuffs upset...

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/AlexRaths

Having worked with “young offenders” for well over 20 years, I have one unshakeable conviction:

They are “young” first, and “offenders” second.

Why does this matter?

Because who we‘re dealing with, will impact on how we deal with them.

As those who work to aid recovery in troubled young people, how we view them is key to everything else we do…

Why does “child first, offender second”, matter?

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Gang membership & mental health…

“It’s a thug’s life!”

So said one of the lads I worked with in youth justice, when I asked about the violence he’d seen, suffered and taken part in.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/Aestusx

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/Aestusx

Gang membership was part of the problem. We spent the next two years working to help him through it.

A recent study from Queen Mary, University of London has shown unprecedented levels of psychiatric illness among young men in gangs.

Here’s what they found…

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Troubled youth: re-writing the ending…

Once upon a time...

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/CharlieAJA

One of the highlights of my week is watching a film with my son on the weekend. It’s great!

But every now and again, it isn’t. The film is predictable – we know what’s likely to happen next and can guess the end.

It struck me recently that working with troubled young people can be similar to this. But in a good way – we have a chance to change the ending, to make it unpredictable.

Many people (the press, Joe Public) respond to them by assuming that the end is set in stone. That these kids are destined to fail.

But it doesn’t have to be like that…

Re-writing the ending…

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