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  • Author or Editor: Claire Paterson-Young x
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From the late 1990s onwards, ‘desistance’ – understanding how people move away from offending – has become a significant research focus and widely evident in central policy. Since 2014, desistance thinking has been transplanted to youth justice in England and Wales from the adult justice system. Yet, discussion or examination of the relevance of desistance thinking – a body of work primarily rooted in the experiences of adults – to children in the justice system remains scarce. However, children’s distinct needs, by virtue of their young age and ongoing neurodevelopment, together with their typically normative offending, raise important questions about the relevance and meaning of desistance thinking to their pathways away from crime. Coordinated by the National Association for Youth Justice, this collection brings together voices from academia, policy and practice to examine the topic of desistance with children from multiple vantage points and through a range of pertinent themes. Contributions include those that consider and critique the relevance of desistance to children from a theoretical and conceptual perspective (such as through the lens of Child First and temporality); examine the socio-structural dimensions of desistance (including gender, race and religion); and explore the application of desistance thinking with children (encompassing themes of implementation, participation, relational practice, arts-based interventions, sentencing and morality strengthening).

Open access
Critical Reflections from Theory, Research and Practice

Available open access digitally under CC BY-NC-ND licence.

‘Desistance’ – understanding how people move away from offending – has become a significant policy focus in recent years, with desistance thinking transplanted from the adult to the youth justice system in England and Wales. This book is the first to critique this approach to justice-involved children, many of whom are yet to fully develop an identity (criminal or otherwise) from which to ‘desist’.

Featuring voices from academia, policy and practice, this book explores practical approaches to desistance with children in the ‘Child First’ context. It gives new insights into how children can be supported to move away from offending and proposes reforms to make a meaningful difference to children’s lives.

Open access

This chapter outlines the impetus for the volume, which comes from the shifting youth justice context in England and Wales. It is published at a pivotal juncture as desistance thinking is introduced into policy and practice with children across the spectrum of official sanctions, against a backdrop of scarce academic discussion of this development. The chapter presents the book’s aims and guiding questions, which include consideration of whether the concept and theorisation of desistance is helpful when applied to children; how desistance thinking is currently understood and implemented in youth justice policy and practice; and what helps children to move away from offending. Following an overview of the book’s rationale and aims, the chapter provides an extensive review of the existing evidence base on children and desistance and highlights the areas of difference and uncertainty compared with adult desistance thinking. The chapter then moves on to describe the policy context within which desistance thinking has become central to youth justice in England and Wales. The chapter concludes by detailing the book’s structure and the nature of the various contributions.

Open access

In this chapter, the editors draw out and reflect on the central themes that have emerged from the collection. These include conceptualising desistance as a social justice issue, the centrality of caring relationships to children’s wellbeing and positive outcomes, the role of identity in children’s pathways away from offending and the importance of reflecting on desistance thinking and practice ‘through the child’s lens’. A key focus here is that children in trouble with the law and the youth justice field should be understood as distinct from and separate to the adult justice system. The chapter ends by considering the policy and practice implications of the collection, as well as exploring avenues for further research that could develop and test the arguments presented in the book.

Open access

From the late 1990s onwards, ‘desistance’ – understanding how people move away from offending – has become a significant research focus and widely evident in central policy. Since 2014, desistance thinking has been transplanted to youth justice in England and Wales from the adult justice system. Yet, discussion or examination of the relevance of desistance thinking – a body of work primarily rooted in the experiences of adults – to children in the justice system remains scarce. However, children’s distinct needs, by virtue of their young age and ongoing neurodevelopment, together with their typically normative offending, raise important questions about the relevance and meaning of desistance thinking to their pathways away from crime. Coordinated by the National Association for Youth Justice, this collection brings together voices from academia, policy and practice to examine the topic of desistance with children from multiple vantage points and through a range of pertinent themes. Contributions include those that consider and critique the relevance of desistance to children from a theoretical and conceptual perspective (such as through the lens of Child First and temporality); examine the socio-structural dimensions of desistance (including gender, race and religion); and explore the application of desistance thinking with children (encompassing themes of implementation, participation, relational practice, arts-based interventions, sentencing and morality strengthening).

Open access

From the late 1990s onwards, ‘desistance’ – understanding how people move away from offending – has become a significant research focus and widely evident in central policy. Since 2014, desistance thinking has been transplanted to youth justice in England and Wales from the adult justice system. Yet, discussion or examination of the relevance of desistance thinking – a body of work primarily rooted in the experiences of adults – to children in the justice system remains scarce. However, children’s distinct needs, by virtue of their young age and ongoing neurodevelopment, together with their typically normative offending, raise important questions about the relevance and meaning of desistance thinking to their pathways away from crime. Coordinated by the National Association for Youth Justice, this collection brings together voices from academia, policy and practice to examine the topic of desistance with children from multiple vantage points and through a range of pertinent themes. Contributions include those that consider and critique the relevance of desistance to children from a theoretical and conceptual perspective (such as through the lens of Child First and temporality); examine the socio-structural dimensions of desistance (including gender, race and religion); and explore the application of desistance thinking with children (encompassing themes of implementation, participation, relational practice, arts-based interventions, sentencing and morality strengthening).

Open access