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Care - A Stepping Stone to Custody?: The Views of Children in Care on the Links Between Care, Offending and Custody

NCJ Number
Rachel Blades; Di Hart; Joanna Lea; Natasha Willmott
Date Published
78 pages
This report presents the results of a study that examined why children in custody are disproportionately more likely to end up involved with the youth justice system.
This study interviewed 23 children aged 13 to 17 to determine their experience of, and involvement in, the youth justice system in England and Wales. Key findings from the interviews include the following: the experiences of children prior to entering the youth justice system significantly affected their offending behavior; of the children who thought that being in care was the primary reason for their offending or increased the likelihood of offending, many had been or were in custody; factors that were believed to increase the risk of offending included loss or, or infrequent contact with family, difficult relationships with peers/peer pressure, and type and number of placements; and children who felt that being in care had no real effect on their chances of offending tended to have entered care in their early teens, had been placed in foster care or children's homes, and had offended prior to entering the care system. Additional findings are presents on which features of the youth justice system are risk or protective factors in offending and whether the youth justice system impacts unfairly on children in care. The report also includes eight recommendations presented by the children interviewed for the study on what can be done to improve the care system and reduce children's chances of offending. The authors present a seven-point plan for use by policymakers and service provides to enhance the care system and reduce the risk of offending. These seven points are: 1) proactive care planning; 2) getting the placement right; 3) recognizing the importance of relationships with adults; 4) being aware of family influences; 5) nurturing children's aspirations; 6) working across agencies; and 7) being a good parent. References, appendixes, tables, and figures