New child-led research - ‘Thinking About Justice’

Date: 28th April 2022
Category: Child justice system

legal hammer

'Thinking About Justice' explored children’s understanding, experiences of, and aspirations for justice in Scotland. Children shared how they often feel powerless and judged in their own experiences of justice. Children also highlighted the role adults play in creating both just and unjust experiences.

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Thirty-two children participated in online and face-to-face youth-led workshops. The key themes of ‘Thinking About Justice’ include:

  • Whilst many children support traditional philosophies of punishment, they perceive rehabilitation to be the most significant aspect of justice, with a clear recognition of the underlying causes of offending behaviour. They believe the sanctity of childhood should be prioritised when considering punishment.
  • Trusted, respectful and child-centred relationships are important in ensuring a child’s access to justice is fully supported.
  • Children said they are victims of unjustified surveillance.
  • Gender plays an important role in personal experiences of justice for both sexes, based on acceptable gendered traits. Girls in particular felt forced to change their behaviour to avoid misogyny and gender-based violence – which were viewed as being an ‘expected’ part of growing up.
  • Some children deeply mistrust the formal process of justice. These children viewed alternative, informal, community-based systems of justice as fairer and more effective.

Findings from this research are available in a variety of formats, including a full report, a summary animation and a child-friendly version which was illustrated by a young person.