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Journal Article


Thompson N, Spacey M. Safer Communities 2023; 22(3): 200-216.


(Copyright © 2023, Emerald Group Publishing)






PURPOSE This paper aims to explore how peer support can support a combined Child First, trauma-informed and restorative approach for youth justice. While other scholars have identified clashes between these approaches, particularly between Child First and restorative approaches, a focus on reparative practice with peers has been under-explored as a more child-centred model for reparation-focused work.

DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH We draw on qualitative data from interviews and surveys undertaken with young people and parents/caregivers in a London youth offending service (YOS). The data was part of a broader mixed-methods study in the YOS that used observational methods alongside surveys and interviews to evaluate the effectiveness of its model of practice. Peer support emerged as a theme.

FINDINGS Participants expressed the desire to see young people working and volunteering in the YOS and felt this would help make it a safe and non-threatening space. Young people who had completed their time with the YOS saw themselves as role models with the insight and skills to support others. These young people expressed a strong desire to work in the YOS and, in some cases, to develop long-term careers supporting young people.

ORIGINALITY/VALUE Our research challenges the notion that young people who have been involved in crime struggle to empathise, providing rich examples of their empathic understanding for peers. Peer support opportunities could offer a reconceptualisation of restorative practice that is Child First and trauma-informed. Such opportunities would benefit both the young people being supported and those offering support, building a co-produced approach that is directly informed by the expressed needs and desires of the young people.

Keywords: Juvenile Justice

Language: en


Child First; Peer support; Restorative justice; Trauma-informed practice; Youth justice; Youth offending


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