Social work students from the University of Greensboro at North Carolina got a taste of the Scottish youth justice system when they observed a mock Children’s Hearing at the University of Strathclyde, led by the Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice (CYCJ).
The students were visiting as part of an annual summer exchange programme between the two universities. They were joined at the hearing by students on the University of Strathclyde’s social work course.
Members of CYCJ gave it their all as part of the hearing’s panel, investigating the case of ‘Ashley’, a 14 year old female with offending behaviour and welfare issues who was referred to a children’s hearing.
Present were Ashley’s mother, who was concerned about her daughter’s relationship with a 19 year old male; her social worker, who made the strong recommendation that Ashley remain in residential care; her mother’s advocacy worker from the community mental health project; her residential care worker; legal support; and head teacher of the school Ashley attends. Three Children’s Panel members volunteered to reside over proceedings.
All had an opinion on plans for Ashley’s future, with feelings running high at many points, reflecting the reality of an actual hearing.
Social work tutor Alicia Kaplan, who was accompanying the Greensboro students, praised the hearing: “It was very realistic. It showed that the most significant difference between the UK and the US is that the system here is definitely more family orientated. It’s been wonderful being in Glasgow on this exchange. The more information we can learn about assisting and supporting families back in the US, the better.”
Feedback from the audience was very positive, with considered questions being asked by many of the students.
Professor Andrew Kendrick, Head of the School of Social Work and Social Policy, said: “We’re delighted to welcome the Greensboro students to the University of Strathclyde. We hope that this visit will benefit not only these students but also our own, as they share experiences and learn from each other. This hearing was an excellent way of giving the students a real insight into how Scottish social work and youth justice systems work.”
In addition to the hearing, the Greensboro students enjoyed further input from CYCJ, including a talk on the Children’s Hearing System by Jill McAfee, and a presentation and Q&A session on youth justice in Scotland from David Orr and Heather Irving. The students also visited Kibble, one of Scotland’s specialist providers of services for high risk young people.