What Works Revisited: Youth Justice, Cultural Context and Deviancy Amplification

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract / Description of output

According to Muncie (2002), the search for consistently efficient and effective practice in a global context means that the dynamics of local contingencies are often overlooked. The youth justice system in Scotland is currently incorporating what works principles into dedicated programmes for child offenders and piloting fast track children's hearings for persistent offenders. These developments have the potential to undermine key elements of the Kilbrandon philosophy on which the current system was originally based, through their emphasis on specialist social work intervention focused on criminogenic need (rather than generic intervention based on the welfare needs of the child). The aim of this paper is to assess the relative merits of these alternative visions of youth justice in dealing with children and young people who offend, It is based on findings from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, a longitudinal study of pathways into and out of offending for a cohort of 4,300 young people who started secondary school in the city of Edinburgh in 1998. Drawing on self-report data and agency records from the first four sweeps of the study, we argue that (1) the model of offending which can be derived from the study findings is broadly supportive of the Kilbrandon philosophy, (2) current policies targeting persistent offenders are based on a spurious scientific rationale potentially damaging to the indigenous institutional ethos within the Scottish system and (3) such policies are likely to amplify the very problems which they were designed to contain or eradicate.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - Jul 2005

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • youth justice; what works; Kilbrandon philosophy; effective interventions; matched groups


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