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Youth justice in the UK: children, young people and crime
Youth justice in the UK: children, young people and crime

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7 Summary of Session 6

Racism has always involved a complex blend of white cultural arrogance, political opportunism, religious sentiment, violence and brutality. The focus on science providing a justification, or an alibi, for racism has declined since the defeat of fascism in Europe and the full exposure of Nazi atrocities.

Increasingly, religion and nationalism are taking its place as justifications for separation and differences. Children and young people with diverse Muslim backgrounds feel the force of these new forms of racism.

The family of Stephen Lawrence campaigned to expose the racism that crippled the police investigation into his murder, changing forever the way in which relations between policing and black people could be talked about. In 2018, the Zahid Mubarek Trust won the Criminal Justice Alliance Outstanding Organisation award for its work offering advocacy and support to prisoners and their families.

In youth justice there can be no room for complacency that racism is a marginal issue or the business of ethnic minorities. Everyone has an ethnicity, but the relative position in terms of majority and minority, power and influence, are shaped by racism. Racism is a deadly and corrupting force that cannot coexist with any system of justice, least of all youth justice. Anyone and everyone interested in working in youth justice must equip themselves to oppose racism. This session has been designed with that in mind and now you have completed it you should feel more confident in delivering on Baroness Young’s call for urgent, in-depth and nuanced responses to racism.

The main learning points of the sixth session are:

  • Racism must be challenged in youth justice and elsewhere.
  • To challenge racism effectively it must be understood as a dynamic, changing feature of contemporary society, not a discredited relic of the past.
  • Children and young people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds suffer from being seen as ‘problem’ populations.
  • Ethnicity and ethnic monitoring can provide insights into and evidence of racist discrimination and patterns of provision in youth justice.

Although race and ethnicity are recognised as categories that shape experience, processes and outcomes in youth justice, another factor – often less readily recognised but no less impactful – is social class. You will explore this in the next session.

You can now go to Session 7 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .