Strengthening links between Scotland and Shanghai

Partnership working links between Shanghai and Scotland have been strengthened following a visit to China’s ‘birthplace of juvenile justice’ by representatives from the Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice (CYCJ) and the University of Strathclyde.

CYCJ’s Claire Lightowler, Debbie Nolan and Donna McEwan, Roisin McGoldrick of the School of Social Work and Social Policy and Anni Donaldson, of the Equally Safe in Higher Education programme, travelled to Shanghai together in October 2018.

The main purpose of their visit was to present at The Children and Adolescents: Social Work, Social Services and Social Justice Symposium, which arose out of conversations between CYCJ, the University of Strathclyde and the East China University of Political Science and Law (ECUPL). The symposium, the first to bring together Scottish and Chinese youth justice expertise, was attended by researchers, youth judges, social workers and child protection agencies. It combined inputs on practice in Scotland and China including sexual offending and technology; vulnerability, risk and offending; and state intervention and legitimacy.

In addition, visits were made to key youth services, including Set Sail, an award-winning organisation providing both preventative intervention and interventions to children already involved in offending behaviour and their families in schools, the community and in custody. The group also attended the Jiading New Spring School, which provides education and protection for children involved in offending and for homeless children in Shanghai – and is the site of the district’s Juvenile Legal Education Centre.

CYCJ have published a report sharing findings from this visit, looking at respective approaches to social work, social services and social justice in Scotland and China; identifying areas of commonality and difference; what can be learnt from each other, and where further joint working may be possible.

Debbie Nolan, Practice Advisor with CYCJ, said:

“This was truly a once in a lifetime trip. Our hosts ensured we felt very welcome and made every effort to show us around Shanghai, facilitate visits to various organisations and to explain how the systems worked, despite the language barrier. It was fascinating to learn that whilst there are obvious differences between our systems, there’s also a surprising amount of similarities. This is particularly the case with regards to prevention and intervention and debates around the minimum age of criminal responsibility (which is currently 16 in China). We’re really looking forward to arranging further exchanges and continuing to learn from each other.”

Roisin McGoldrick, Professional Lead for Social Work, said:

“This was a great example of different domains within the School of Social Work and Social Policy sharing knowledge, expertise – and a bit of fun – in a country so very different from Scotland but with many similar issues and dilemma in relation to the care and treatment of young people. Hopefully the first of many such joint ventures!”

Read Donna McEwan’s blog to learn more about the visit.

Photo was taken at the Taicang Youth Affairs and Service Centre, where Set Sail is based.

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Children's and Young People's Centre for Justice
University of Strathclyde
Lord Hope Building, Level 6
141 St. James Road Glasgow G4 0LT

(0141) 444 8622

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