Promoting social inclusion: Participatory rights alternatives to risk discourses in youth justice

SEAN CREANEY, Stephen Case

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

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In this chapter, the efficacy of participatory practices as the central vehicle for driving a Child First agenda in youth justice in England and Wales will be explored. The extent to which this ‘new’ agenda has brought children’s participatory rights to the fore, giving credence to the voice of the child in policy and practice circles will be assessed. The chapter explores how and why children’s knowledge has tended to be devalued, considered inferior to adult professional experience/expertise. Indeed, opportunities provided to children to have a say and influence practice can be strikingly unequal at the practice level, including examples of infringements on children’s participatory rights. It can be potentially problematic introducing a Child First socially inclusive and rights-based agenda into a field favorable to risk oriented, exclusionary discussions and responses. For example, despite policy reforms and transformations to practice a deficit focus has at the very least been partially retained, underpinned by the identification and management of ‘risk’ or ‘riskiness’ leading to the preservation of a deficit-based status quo. This approach is concerned with the likelihood of children engaging in future harmful ‘risky’ behaviors, and is often the driving force behind decision-making, including how systems or processes operate and or certain strategies endure. This chapter sets out to investigate the tensions and interplay between ‘risk work’, children’s engagement and participatory rights discourses in youth justice. It offers insight into how those on the frontline circumnavigate or mitigate divisions between these discourses, raising issues and documenting concerns that are of international relevance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Social Inclusion. Research and Practices in Health and Social Sciences
PublisherSpringer, Singapore
ISBN (Electronic)9783030482770
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2021


  • Social inclusion
  • Youth justice
  • Participatory rights
  • Child First Participation
  • Risk discourses


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