Creating a rights-respecting guide for children in conflict with the law

The Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ) has published a guide to Scotland’s Whole System Approach, aimed at supporting children to understand what their rights are and what supports are available, when they have come into conflict with the law.

This guide was created in collaboration with young people who have had contact with justice systems, and gone through the various stages of the Whole System Approach (WSA).

Working alongside Staf (Scottish Throughcare and Aftercare Forum), three young people led on the creation of ‘Whole System Approach: A guide for children and young people’.

Through the process of speaking to other children and young people who had experience of the various stages of the WSA, Marie, Dale and Jason have created an accessible resource which highlights some of the important information that they believed children and young people should be aware of when coming into contact with the justice systems.

The content explains what children and young people can expect at every stage of the process.

Information is also provided, which explains the meaning of words used.

This guide is particularly relevant as Scotland moves towards incorporating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into domestic law.

Marie said:

“Myself, Dale and Jason worked really hard on this guide to make sure children and young people going through the justice system understand the process and their rights, so I am really happy to see it being published. Thank you to all of the young people who shared their views with us and made the guide possible. I know that something like this would have helped me when going through a scary and confusing system so I hope it has a positive impact.”

Fiona Dyer, Director of CYCJ, said:

“Ensuring that children and young people understand their legal rights, what this may mean for their criminal record, what court decisions mean and what support is available to them, is really important – now more than ever. Yet this information can often be inconsistent in accuracy and accessibility across the country. We wanted to produce a rights-respecting resource that could address this, and help Scotland keep its obligations under the UNCRC and The Promise. And to do this effectively, we knew we needed the views of those who have experienced the systems first-hand.

“Marie, Dale and Jason have all worked hard to bring this guide to publication, and we are very grateful to them. We hope this is a useful resource for everyone who uses it, and would appreciate people’s help in sharing it widely with children, young people, families and those supporting them.”

Articles 37 and 40 of the UNCRC make specific reference to children who have come into conflict with the law, with the related General Comment 10 articulating many areas where Scotland may need to amend existing practice.

Included within that is the way in which we support children who are in conflict with the law to understand their legal rights; what this may mean for their criminal record, what court decisions mean and what support is available to them.

This guide builds on CYCJ’s commitment to creating accessible resources and information for children, young people and their families who are experiencing the justice system for the first time. Find out more at Just the Right Space.

Related reading

CYCJ’s work to #MeetThePromise

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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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