The Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures Doctoral Research Centre (DRC) draws together world-class scholars to study complex problems requiring insight from multiple perspectives. Driven by the UN Sustainable Development Goals and children’s human rights, this DRC aims to generate new knowledge, and apply this effectively in policy, professional practice environments, and the settings in which children live their lives.
Children’s interaction with formal justice systems remains an immense problem throughout the world in both high- and lower-income countries. Few nations uphold the globally agreed rights of children in this respect, and this is a major element in reducing children’s well-being and their prospects and opportunities for the future.
Children who come into contact with the law require child-friendly, child-centred justice systems that are specialised, meeting their needs and ensuring access to justice for children when their rights are violated. Justice systems and related processes and services must be differentiated and specialised, developed in accordance with internationally agreed guiding principles and guidance so that children’s needs, rights and capacities can be fully respected.
Children’s involvement in justice systems often results in children being stigmatised and discriminated against by society, and can hinder their development and participation in education and employment on the path to adulthood. Children who are older can be seen as troublesome, difficult, or worse, ignoring their status as children and their need for support and protection. This can entrench offending behaviours instead of contributing to rehabilitation and reintegration.
Taking a different approach by using diversionary and upstream preventive mechanisms avoids the danger of trapping children in a pattern or culture of offending behaviour. It recognises the particular vulnerabilities of children who offend. Educational systems, health systems, as well as family and community strengthening efforts, are key components of an integrated child-centred system which delivers justice. Integrated child protection services which focus on the wellbeing of children and their families have the potential, along with other specialised approaches, to support children and them to assume a constructive role in society.
A trans-disciplinary approach is needed to generate evidence that takes into account the complexity of the problem and the necessary solutions. Our knowledge of how to address this – and the critical evidence that must underpin this understanding – is inadequate, or focussed on a very partial analysis of the problems that overlooks the complexity that a trans-disciplinary approach can provide.
The central questions for this doctoral research project will include:
· What are the determinants and character of the current challenges to justice for children, that seriously and directly threaten children’s well-being?
· How can this evidence and analysis be brought to bear on the identification of evidence-based policy and programmes that address both the critical preventative and mitigative perspectives?
· How can these be effectively implemented, what are the facilitative factors and how can we overcome the barriers?
· How can evidence of the social and economic value and impact of better policy and implementation to both the child and the wider society contribute to the securing of political commitment?
In addressing these questions, the project aims to provide the evidence for better global policy-making, which further enables the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals for children, and their human rights. This project’s association with the Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures’ international organisational partners will enable highly facilitative routes to impact.
For further information regarding eligibility and how to apply please visit Child friendly justice systems | University of Strathclyde
For informal enquires regarding this PhD research project, please contact Prof Jennifer Davidson at [Email Address Removed]
Applications will be ranked by a selection panel and shortlisted applicants will be notified by 5 May 2022.
Interviews will take place in the last week of May 2022, with the studentship starting 1st October 2022.