The position of relationship based practice in youth justice

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Purpose: This paper considers the position of relationship-based practice in youth justice by looking at how ‘effective programmes’ seem to have been given heightened importance over ‘effective’ young person-worker relationships. Design: By critically reviewing the literature on the topic, the paper promotes debate on the position of relationship based practice in youth justice. Findings: It is argued that the young person-worker relationship is very important. A genuine and empathetic relationship can reduce the chances of reoffending and improve the child’s personal, social and emotional development. By being respectful and listening attentively to children’s ‘life stories’, barriers can be overcome, potentially resulting in lifestyle, social and behavioural change. However, although there is evidence that developing a trusting relationship is ‘effective’ and that it is a key component of effective practice, what is less clear is how to practically secure the engagement of a child. Originality: In comparison to the emphasis on effective programme intervention, there has been less research done on the ‘characteristics’ of effective staff practice in youth justice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-125
JournalSafer Communities
Issue number3
Early online date24 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2014


  • Relationships
  • youth justice
  • young offenders
  • youth crime


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