If we are to effectively reduce violent behaviour by children, we must first address the causes, according to a new report by the Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice (CYCJ).
‘Balancing rights and risks: How can we get it right for children involved in violent behaviour?’ examines the experiences, needs and nature of violent behaviour presented by a sample of children referred to the Intervention for Vulnerable Youth (IVY) project. Additionally, 23 practitioner responses to a survey regarding risk practice were examined.
Although official data suggests that the number of children involved in offending has reduced over the past 10 years, there is still a small but substantial percentage who present a serious risk of harm to others.
Report author and CYCJ Practice Development Advisor Carole Murphy says:
“The prevalence of adverse childhood experiences, psychological distress and mental health needs found in this group of children is high and suggests a clear need to reframe how we conceptualise risk of violence for some children, and shift to considering violence as a distress response.
“We can also see from the findings that current risk practice often does not match the level of risk practice required to manage the violent behaviour displayed by these children, and to reduce the risk of harm to others. Balancing the rights of these children whilst managing the risks presented by them is complicated, but what’s clear is that the risk of violent offending cannot be sustainably reduced without us taking a rights based approach to addressing the needs underlying this behaviour.”