A detour from the road to incarceration: Restorative approaches for youth in care
LE3 .A278 2014
Bachelor of Arts
Youth living within residential care facilities face many challenges as a result of their complex histories, mental health difficulties and their environment. These challenges often lead to behavioral problems and criminal offences. To make amends for these offences, while deterring youth from the criminal justice system, youth in care are sometimes referred to restorative justice. In Nova Scotia, one type of residential care is privately-funded while the other is provincially-funded. The privately-funded organization refers youth to their Restorative Team Approach program rather than the mainstream Nova Scotia Restorative Justice (RJ) program after an offence has occurred. This thesis examines the effect restorative approaches have on both dispute resolution and relationships within both types of residential care facilities. I interviewed five youth care professionals in total, representing three different job classifications, who play roles in the lives of youth in care. One restorative justice case worker from each program, two youth care workers from the provincially-funded organization and one youth care supervisor from the privately-funded organization were interviewed. The qualitative analysis of the interviews identified that the use of restorative justice is a contested approach for youth in care. There is a divide in opinion concerning the effects of restorative approaches based on job positions of the staff. The youth care workers were opposed to the RJ program and thought that RJ failed to meet the particular needs of youth in care. The youth care supervisor and the restorative justice case workers expressed some concerns, but felt that restorative justice programs were beneficial for youth in care. Immediate restorative approaches within the home may be the most beneficial for improving dispute resolution and relationships within the residential care facilities.
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