Youth Just Us, the steering group behind the CYCJ/Staf Youth Justice Voices project, have already made a substantial impact, with interest from policy makers and politicians. Ruth Kerracher shares the key messages emerging as a result of the dedicated efforts of these dynamic young people.
Youth Just Us have had a busy time of it recently sharing their views on the Independent Care Review, UNCRC Incorporation and Disclosure (Scotland) Bill, which even included a visit from Maree Todd, Children and Young People’s Minister.
They also managed to squeeze in a game of bowling and a Podcast with Youth Just Us Peer Leader Kev Lafferty and John Swinney on the care-experienced bursary. In this blog we will share some of the key issues raised in these sessions.
Rights awareness raising
Youth Just Us have called for national efforts to raise awareness of the UNCRC. Members suggested that rights based education should start in the early years and should continue throughout school life with dedicated rights based lessons.
In addition to this they believe that young people should learn about rights and entitlements through practical workshops. They felt it was essential that the workforce engaged in rights based training in order to provide correct information and to fulfil their corporate parent responsibilities.
Incorporation of the UNCRC
Youth Just Us called for the Scottish Government to include young people at all stages of incorporation. They believe that it’s critical that young people have a say in how the UNCRC is practically implemented. It was suggested that the Scottish Government’s working group should value young people as important contributors.
Youth Just Us felt strongly that the UNCRC should be universal. Care-experienced young people shouldn’t be further stigmatised with rights that are specifically for them. All children’s rights should be upheld and more efforts need to be made to make this a reality.
Read Staf’s full response to the Scottish Government’s UNCRC consultation.
Treat children as children
Youth Just Us have spoken about the need to make Children’s Hearings and court processes easier to understand and more child friendly. Reference was made to not understanding language, processes and what they are agreeing to.
They called for the Children’s Hearing System to be extended to referrals for 17 and 18 year olds so that all children can access support when they need it. They also strongly believe that there should be no under 18s in prison. Secure Care should also always be the last resort.
Disclosure (Scotland) Bill
Youth Just Us raised a number of issues in relation to disclosure. Key issues were raised around the complexity of disclosing childhood convictions and the real need to have clear guidance on this.
There was a strong belief that childhood convictions are automatically wiped and this information often came from young people’s workers. Youth Just Us believe it is critical that the context and circumstances around offending behaviour is understood and children and young people have the ability to move on from their past.
Youth Just Us shared a number of suggestions with the Disclosure Scotland Customer Engagement Team as to how they can improve Disclosure training and guidance. They hope that more joined up working can help care and justice-experienced young people to access employment and their rights around disclosure. They believe that there needs to be a better awareness of disclosure and greater efforts to share positive “success” stories of people moving on from convictions and getting into work.
To find out more about Youth Justice Voices or to get involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.