Holding the child (and practitioner) in mind? Youth justice practitioners experiences supervising young people displaying sexually harmful behaviour

Andrew Myles-Wright, Claire Nee

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Abstract

This qualitative study explored the lived experiences of youth justice practitioners supervising young people (under 18 years old) displaying sexually harmful behaviour within the Youth Justice System in the UK, as little is currently known about the challenges faced when working with this vulnerable group. Five practitioners from two Youth Offending Services (YOS) participated in individual semi-structured interviews, which were subjected to thematic analysis while also analysing the performative function of language used. The analysis identified an overarching theme of ‘systemic unease’, which contained two sub-themes surrounding ‘unease with the self, and wider YOS personnel’ and ‘unease working with partner agencies’. The findings illuminate critical issues regarding future practice with this under-researched group of young people within the broader context of youth justice, which require further exploration and investigation. The ‘dual relationship problem’ involving tension between risk management and therapeutic alliance is explored in relation to this group. The Moral Acquaintance Model and the Model of Dynamic Adaptation are suggested as helpful approaches to support practitioners and multi-agency professionals going forward in this area.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Early online date5 Apr 2017
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 5 Apr 2017

Keywords

  • thematic analysis
  • Youth Justice System (YJS)
  • Youth Offending Serive (YOS)
  • dual relationship
  • practitioner experiences
  • sexually harmful young people

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