Setting Them Up to Fail

Shirley Rawstorne, Liverpool John Moores University
Charlie McKenna, Lancashire Youth & Community Services

One of the principal aims of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 England and Wales, is for the youth justice system and those working with young offenders to prevent offending by children and young people (s.37) Intervention at a very early age is assumed to be the most effective, but much can be achieved with deprived teenagers, too, if they are given enough help of an appropriate nature. Part of the government strategy of preventing the young getting involved in a career of crime is to resource community projects within the youth services. The projects have the principle aim of preventing offending and methods to achieve this vary greatly. Those considered to be at risk are targeted and included in various programmes. Success is measured through targets based on employment, reintroduction to school or return to study, participation in group activities and a general pro-social attitude. This paper will discuss the practical difficulties of engaging disaffected young people, and expecting them to achieve unrealistic goals in demanding programmes; failure to achieve these goals could have potentially significant consequences.

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Updated 05/20/2006