Rights Respecting? Scotland's Approach to Children in Conflict With the Law

Lightowler, Claire (2020) Rights Respecting? Scotland's Approach to Children in Conflict With the Law. Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice, Glasgow.

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What the report ‘Rights Respecting? Scotland’s approach to children in conflict with the law’ shows is that many children who are in conflict with the law in Scotland do not experience ‘justice’ in the true meaning of the word. There is no justice in taking traumatised children; holding them solely responsible for their actions; putting them through processes they don’t understand, and are unable to participate in; blaming and stigmatising them whilst failing to give them what they need; putting barriers in the way of loving and caring relationships; and taking existing supports and opportunities away from them. The report concludes that Scotland would benefit from thinking about children in conflict with the law from the perspective of rights. This represents a shift from focusing on children as troubled, challenged, vulnerable and challenging, which whilst often well-meaning and containing a partial truth, can encourage negative unintended consequences which disproportionately affect and stigmatise the most disadvantaged children. Children in conflict with the law, like all children, are rights holders. They are entitled to their rights and should have their rights upheld.