The purpose of this essay is to critically evaluate both the welfare principals and punitive principals that are paramount to the youth justice system, firstly by looking at what is meant by welfare approaches and how they have been used in adapting the Children’s Hearing System that is used in Scotland today when dealing with young offenders. Then looking at punitive approaches, how they are also used in dealing with young offenders and how they appear to be re-emerging back into the system in the form of the new youth courts which where piloted in Hamilton and Airdrie.
The large majority of young people who offend are boys who are between the ages of twelve and fifteen, girls just do not offend as much as boys. This is explained in the terms of how boys socialise their adolescent development processes, also there is differences in their peer group relationships and their leisure pursuits. These young people are disadvantaged living in homes which are dependent on state benefit with their parents predominately unemployed. This then leads them to suffer social adversity, living in poor economic and social situations. Family lives which are severely disrupted and children that suffer personal difficulties, Children in care, problems with alcohol, drugs and children suffering from mental health problems are all factors that could lead a young person to offend.
A large proportion of young offenders will also live in local authority accommodation, which will be subsidised by the state, housed in deprived neighbourhood with a very low sense of community and by parents that take a laid back approach to parenting and rarely supervise their children whereabouts. However, harsh discipline, parental conflict and parental rejection are also factors which are associated with youth offending. Other important predictors to youth offending are children experiencing broken homes and early separation, both permanent and temporary families which have also been involved with the criminal justice system.
Around a fifth of households are now headed by a lone parent in Scotland, the majority of these are women, with children having no male role model to look up to, one in eight children now grow up in a reconstituted family in Scotland with either a
Step father or step mother. There are more and more teen pregnancies, with children bringing up children. It has shown in recent research that children who still live with are less likely to offend, whereas those living with one parent or a step family are more likely to offend. Parenting style and parenting-child attachment appear to be more important than family when looking at reasons why young people offend.
Education is also an important factor when looking at youth criminality, links between disaffection at school and delinquency are well substantiated, whether it is due to young people hating school that cause them to offend or they offend because they hate school. Poor school performance, low intelligence and being seen as troublesome in school are major crime risk factors. Young people who have peer relationships with criminal others has also been identified as an independent predictor to future offending.
The Welfare approach assumes that delinquency is a pathological condition which is beyond the control of the individual concerned and since they have no control over their actions they should not be held accountable, guilt or innocence are irrelevant and punishment inappropriate. The needs or underlying disorders, of which delinquency is symptomatic, are capable of identification and hence prevention, treatment and control are possible. The informality of the children’s hearing system is therefore necessary if the children’s needs are to be accurately determined and their best interests served.
Discretion is necessary in determining the best treatment need for the child, the child’s welfare is paramount and a system designed to meet the needs of the child will in...
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