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 justice systems have been victimised by physical, psychological, and sexual violence perpetrated by different actors in the justice system (including the police and corrections officers), as well as 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 fear of facing or being hurt by the defendant, of embarrassment from crying, or of not being able to answer questions. They are often re-victimised and re-traumatised by the justice system actors who do not have sufficient capacity to properly manage the situation and procedures.
Child-sensitive and child-friendly restorative justice services and practices are particularly valuable to protect children in vulnerable situations, support them to understand and manage emotions, prevent (and/or respond to) conflict and violence, and provide them with 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, family members, and communities), 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, within the broader context of the child in relation to the society.
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