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

Sean Creaney*, Stephen Case

*Corresponding author for this work

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


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 riskoriented, 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 decisionmaking, 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
Subtitle of host publicationResearch and Practices in Health and Social Sciences
PublisherSpringer International Publishing Switzerland
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783030895945
ISBN (Print)9783030895938
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2022


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


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