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

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

Session 8: Youth justice with integrity


In this final session, you will explore how youth justice in the UK can resist the recurring pressures of ‘toughness’ and remain creative, diverse and principled. You will consider four guiding principles for assessing the integrity of youth justice in an unjust world. These are principles that draw implicitly and explicitly from what you have learned about in earlier sessions of this course.

The four principles are informed by an appreciation of the social dynamics of race, class and gender shaping youth justice and their potential to influence ideas about, and responses to, crime and offending behaviour. The diverse forms of youth justice practice in the UK feed into wider concerns to promote social justice by developing practice and policy based around principles that empower children and defend their rights.

The four principles are:

  1. Social and economic justice for youth justice
  2. Comprehensiveness, universality and social engagement
  3. Diversion
  4. Child-appropriate justice

You will explore and examine each of these principles in this session.

Establishing the importance of basic and guiding principles is central to youth justice with integrity (Goldson and Muncie, 2008). ‘Integrity’ in this context means forms of policy and practice with young people that observe and uphold principles of fairness and human equality, respect the rights of children and celebrate human diversity.

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Transcript: Session 8 introduction

So this is the final session of the course and it proposes four principles that should be important to anyone interested in youth justice. They're relevant to all four jurisdictions of the UK and apply across questions of gender, race, and class that you've explored in the last three sessions.
The principles have been developed by scholars associated with the Open University in the past. And this session includes a contribution from Professor Jo Phoenix. Professor Phoenix continues the Open University tradition of innovation and imagination by proposing an even more radical response to young people's offending behaviour.
Jo suggests that abolishing the youth justice system is the most promising way of making a real difference to the lives and prospects of young people. For Jo, there's no point in separating anyone's behaviour from the social circumstances that produced it, and thus no justification for individualised responses to challenging behaviour.
Criminalisation is the problem, not the solution, according to Jo. And she proposed this in a lecture she recorded in 2019 to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Open University. "The Open University was a radical experiment," says Jo, "that many thought was just impossible. But by demanding the impossible, the possibilities grew larger. The Open University that built this course and many, many others, was the result of radical thinking, thinking out of the box." And Jo urges us to think in this radical way about youth justice.
I hope you enjoy this final week of the course, and that you found all the sessions worthwhile and interesting. There are always new questions about children and crime coming forward in the news or social issues. Completing this course will help you make better sense of them and will perhaps help you find answers and ask new questions of your own. So thank you and keep studying.
End transcript: Session 8 introduction
Session 8 introduction
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By the end of this session, you should be able to:

  • identify ways in which the four principles of youth justice with integrity are relevant in the UK
  • recognise how the four principles underpin youth justice in a changing world
  • understand the relevance of children’s rights to youth justice
  • recognise the limitations of youth justice and the value of diversion.

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