The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the benefits of participation for young offenders. It also explores some of the challenges giving young people “a say”.
This paper reviews and critiques a number of published sources, including peer reviewed journal articles. By critically reviewing the literature, the paper intends to promote discussion and ignite debate on the topic of “offender participation”.
This paper argues that if young people are given a voice and provided with the opportunity to influence how a service is implemented it is more probable that the child will be “rehabilitated”. Furthermore, participation has many benefits for the individual child. More specifically, not only does it increase levels of engagement and compliance with a particular form of intervention or programme, but by being involved in the process, the child's self-esteem increases, making “motivation to change” more likely.
This paper argues that despite good policy and practice intentions, the involvement of young offenders in the design and delivery of youth justice services requires further development. Indeed, there needs to be greater opportunities provided to young people, across the Youth Justice System, to “share their views” and influence practice.
The author would like to thank the peer reviewers for the kind and very helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper. The points raised by the reviewers were very constructive and have helped to improve the overall structure of the paper.
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