Children’s voices - are we listening? Progressing peer mentoring in the Youth Justice System

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Whilst there is research evidence on the benefits of mentoring and its non-significant effects, the practice of peer mentoring in the Youth Justice System has received little empirical attention. This paper seeks to critically explore the benefits, limitations and challenges of using young offenders as peer mentors. First, the paper reviews relevant literature. Second, it explains the aims and methodology of the study. Third, the paper presents the findings and discussion. Findings suggest that young offenders who are peer mentors have experiential knowledge and can act as positive role models and sources of hope, potentially helping mentees to (re) engage with services. Findings also suggest that young people particularly value building empathic and collaborative relationships with professionals who are ex-offenders and have lived experiences of contact with the criminal justice system. The article also introduces issues and challenges associated with peer mentoring, notably professionals being risk avoidant and disinclined to use young offenders as peer mentors. It also draws on a participant-led music project as a potentially useful means of integrating peer mentoring. The evidence from the study suggests that, children and young people’s active and meaningful participation in this project can help to facilitate the process of change, including, healing, growth and identity transformation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalChild Care in Practice
Early online date8 Oct 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Oct 2018


  • Children's voices
  • peer mentoring
  • participation
  • young offenders
  • youth justice
  • music
  • relationships


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