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Scotland has pioneered a juvenile court system that takes a child-centred approach, and so draws on the skills and competencies of a variety of people within the community to collaborate on decisions that see to the care and welfare of youth (Children's Hearing System, 2005-2006; North Lanarkshire Council, 2002)…
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Download file to see previous pages Notably, the Children's Hearing system is ultimately responsible for determining if decisions are in the best interest of the child. With such large numbers of children passing through the system it is necessary that Scotland consider the long-term implications of their experiences, and the psycho-social impact on children and the community at large.
The following paper aims to critically review the most distinctive feature of the Children's Hearings system: That it differentiates between a criminal court and a welfare hearing for children whether their need is for compulsory supervision or guardianship. Firstly, definitions of justice and welfare will be determined. Secondly, a critique of the Scottish approach that has been in use for three decades will be provided, that is the separation of Welfare and Justice systems. Finally, a conclusion will synthesise the main points and provide recommendations for future research, as well as provide support for the current ideology that governs the Children's Hearings system.
Justice and welfare are recognised as distinct theoretical constructs, although it is also clear that in practice they overlap along a continuum. Similar for each is the multiplicity of meanings, reflecting parts of a larger umbrella term (Bottooms & Dingam, 2004). Decision-making entities involved in child welfare, their care and protection, and/or youth justice are descriptive labels for activities involved in juvenile services of justice and welfare. In April 1971 the Children's Hearing system commenced activities, thus establishing a two-prong juvenile service approach: A Welfare hearing and a court Justice system that aimed to meet the needs of all children within the court system, regardless of their referral issue (Waterhouse & McGhee, 2002).
Until this time, juvenile services did not differentiate between Welfare and Justice. During the 1950s and 1960s, Scottish educators, governments and social and health care workers promoted discourse into the poor methods society was using to interact and guide at risk youth (Children's Hearings Scotland, 2005-2006). The children's courts at this time were inadequate to investigate intervene and monitor juvenile needs as the criminal system and welfare agency were one entity. The Committee chose to split the responsibilities across two separate organizations, and issues that required the action on behalf of the child's welfare took place at a hearing separate to that of the criminal court. The System was incorporated into the Children's (Scotland) Act, 1995.
The Welfare Approach judges the needs of care and social protection of a child, taking into account the context of the child's life at that time. The key criterion for this model is the child-centred orientation, and it is their well being and interests which are predominantly taken into account (Petch, 2006). The Welfare model is dynamic and in flux, developing with socio-educational changes as alternatives to punishment. Thus, the Welfare model endorses interest, investigation and reflection on the processes that explain the causes or needs those potentate anti-social behaviours.
In contrast, a Justice Approach focuses on due process and deciding whether an offense has been committed, and if so, the proportional ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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