Pamela Morrison talks us through CYCJ’s latest resource for young people, and why it was so important for them to be involved in the process.
Following the completion of Youth & Criminal Justice in Scotland: The young person’s journey it was quickly established that the resource was not really accessible to young people. This highlighted gap sparked discussions around the ways in which workers communicate with young people, and how they wish to gain information about the processes they are involved in. It seemed an obvious next step to develop a ‘young person’s version of the young person’s journey’ (albeit with a catchier name).
This was one of the first tasks that I was set when I started at CYCJ and I was keen to make sure I got it right. As I was not part of the initial discussions I was well placed to think about the real purpose in developing a resource for young people. I asked myself a few questions… should it be an online or paper resource? Should it be animated? Will young people use a resource? However, these were not really things to be asking myself, or other adults, but the young people themselves. They are after all the experts in their own lives. I therefore decided that in order to answer these questions I should engage directly with young people to identify what type of resource would be helpful… if any at all.
I met with a range of young people from various settings including the community, residential and secure estates. Some of them had experience of the youth justice system although I felt that it was equally as important to ensure that the voices of those who had no involvement with the youth justice system were also heard. In total, 22 young people were engaged with, five of which were female, over six settings.
From the discussions it was apparent, rather unsurprisingly, that young people are individuals and therefore have individual opinions on how they should receive information. At one point I felt like I would be co-producing several resources in order to take all of the differing opinions on board. There were, however, recurring messages that helped establish the direction of the project. Phew!
Young people advised that generally they do not read or have a desire to gain information by means of a leaflet. They stated, almost unanimously, that they are not likely to read leaflets or other forms of written information handed to them. This was backed up by research completed recently by Who Cares? on behalf of the Scottish Government in relation to information on advocacy, and was something that I took on board.
Young people repeatedly identified that they gained information from people rather than resources, whether this be a teacher, social worker or lawyer. Is there even a need for a resource for young people, if we can skill up the workers to provide this information? In short yes, as some of the young people acknowledged that they did not have a positive relationship with any adult who could provide the relevant information… another hurdle requiring to be overcome…
Following all of the discussions with young people, the decision was made that an online resource would be most helpful and seemed to be the answer to some of the issues raised. This would provide a ‘go-to’ place for young people should they wish to receive information on the things that may happen following being charged with an offence. It is simple and easily-navigated, and provides links to partner agencies where young people can access further information they may find helpful. A group of young people from SCRA supported this development which was then peer reviewed by young people within the secure units, and Journey through Justice was born.
It is hoped that this resource will develop over the coming months and years and be added to, resulting in a richer resource for young people, as it is apparent that there is a lack of resources specifically designed for them. By raising awareness of the need for young people specific resources, this will allow Journey through Justice to develop further into a fuller and well-used resource for young people.
If anybody is aware of any specific resources for young people that could be added to Journey through Justice please contact email@example.com.
About our blogger
Pamela Morrison is a Practice Development Advisor with CYCJ, who is committed to ensuring young people and their families are treated appropriately within the criminal justice system. Find out more.