'I think I must have been born bad': Emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people in the youth justice system
The need to protect all children from harm, including those who break the law, to provide them with treatment for health related matters and support for their emotional wellbeing is enshrined in UK law and policy, as well as a number of international conventions, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which was ratified by the UK in 1991.
In early 2010, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner embarked on a programme of work to observe and examine the provisions in place for supporting and promoting the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people in the youth justice system, and in particular those in detention.
The Office of the Children’s Commissioner established and led a group of experts from non-Governmental agencies to help undertake this work. To inform their report members of the group undertook an extensive programme of visits to numerous establishments and services in the youth justice system. On each visit, they recorded their observations and importantly, sought the views and experiences of children and young people and those working with them.
Findings from the visits were shared with groups of young people who had experienced the youth justice system, including some who had been in custody. The purpose of these focus groups was to obtain a reflection on our findings from young people who had experienced the youth justice system and started the process of turning their lives around to face a more positive future.