Young people’s ‘voices’ as evidence

Authored by: Jean Hine

Youth Justice Handbook

Print publication date:  October  2009
Online publication date:  February  2014

Print ISBN: 9781843927174
eBook ISBN: 9781315820064
Adobe ISBN: 9781317821755


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Policies for responding to the criminal and anti-social behaviour of children and young people, whether actual or potential behaviour, are promoted as ‘evidence based’. But what does this mean? These policies are determined by adults using ‘evidence’ collected and interpreted by adults and containing implicit adult beliefs and assumptions about the nature of childhood/youth. These assumptions include ideas about the appropriate behaviour of children and young people, about the likely future course of their behaviours and, crucially, about the most ‘effective’ ways of responding to those behaviours. However, as several of the chapters in this Handbook indicate, there is another body of ‘evidence’ which seeks to problematize these assumptions by considering the behaviour from the perspective and understandings of the children and young people themselves. The research discussed in this chapter adopts this more critical approach and, in doing so, calls aspects of the current ‘orthodoxy’ into question, suggesting alternative approaches that are likely to be more fruitful and less damaging for the young people involved. The chapter concludes by outlining ways in which practitioners can use this alternative understanding to work in ways that can be more meaningful and useful for children and young people, and ultimately more effective for practice.

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