Tackling violence within child justice systems and ensuring child friendly approaches for child victims, offenders and witnesses.
Children who come into conflict with the law are more likely than other children to have experienced violence or adversity. Studies have found that children in juvenile justice systems may be the victims of physical, psychological and sexual violence by staff and adult detainees in detention centres. The trauma suffered can cause lasting harm to a child, their development, their self-worth, and their future.
Child victims and witnesses in contact with the justice system may experience anxiety surrounding court appearances and mainly fear facing or being hurt by the defendant, being embarrassed about crying or not being able to answer questions.
Child-sensitive and child-friendly restorative justice services and practices are particularly valuable to protect vulnerable children, empower them in identifying and managing emotions, prevent (and/or respond to) conflict and violence, give them a safe space to express themselves and be heard when dealing with matters relevant to them, including as victims or witnesses. Guidelines, policies, awareness campaigns and other safeguarding mechanisms within the criminal justice system as well as with other parties (e.g. health professionals, schools, parents) need to be established to safely prevent, detect, identify, report and treat cases of violence against children. Effective measures should also examine possible pathways outside of the criminal justice system and take into account what will help a child the most.
Disclaimer: Authors are the Global Initiative on Justice with Children with pro-bono support from Baker McKenzie. This section represents one among other positions of some members of the World Congress Consortium and does not necessarily represent the view of all institutions and members involved