8 Course conclusion
At the beginning of this course you were asked to think about the question ‘when do children stop being children and become adults?’. There is no single correct or simple answer to this question because the journey between childhood and adulthood is so complex and variable. As a result, and as you have explored through the eight sessions, there is much diversity in practice and principle.
The learning activities you have completed have given you some insights into this diversity and the ways in which the four jurisdictions of the UK respond to children in trouble on that journey toward adulthood. When those troubles are framed by questions of crime and punishment, it is easy to lose sight of the child and focus on the offender. When this happens the part played by wider social forces such as gender, race and class, in a child’s behaviour, circumstances and future prospects are quickly obscured. That is why they have been highlighted in this course.
The arguments over diversion, abolition, the need for punishment and rights to support services will continue, as will struggles against racism, sexism and the social divisions of class. You can join both the arguments and the struggles by continuing to study these issues with The Open University. If you have taken this course about youth justice, you may be interested in working professionally or voluntarily with children and young people who are struggling to live within the law and to thrive. The Open University offers several qualifications relevant to this kind of work. If you are interested in this area, you might like to take a closer look at the following courses: