This chapter considers how a "reflective" approach to youth justice practice might help practitioners in resolving some, if not all, of the dilemmas that arise in an ambivalent political and occupational climate.
"Reflective practice," which was developed in many professions in the 1980s, can be viewed as a model for how practitioners make sense of their daily work by adopting a technique for learning. This involves a three-stage process in which practitioners analyze their practice experiences, extract lessons from these experiences, and use what they learn to analyze and respond to similar experiences in different contexts. The reflective practitioner recognizes and reflects on the complexity of practice and the way this can involve practical dilemmas and also conflicting values, goals, and interests. From within the framework of the "reflective" approach, this chapter discusses how practitioners might exercise discretionary judgment within the constraints of professional accountability by examining the key components and principles of "reflective practice" (Schon 1983, 1987, and 1991). Beginning with an overview of reflective practice in the wider "helping professions," the author explores the value of this approach to professional development in youth justice in Great Britain. The chapter then draws on the work of Eadie and Canton (2002) in explaining the ways in which reflective practice may succeed or fail to be a positive force within youth justice, given the challenges of this multidisciplinary, multiagency sector. In addition, the chapter examines the implications of a more radical version of reflection. This involves the practitioner going so far as to scrutinize some of the underlying theoretical assumptions for criminal justice interventions. This could result in practitioners engaging in a struggle against contemporary policy forged by supporters of a punitive approach to young offenders. 1 figure and 26 references
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