Promoting Restorative Justice for Children

Promoting Restorative Justice For Children


Today, more than 1 million children are deprived of their liberty worldwide, and countless children face violent and degrading treatment throughout the criminal justice process. In light of this dramatic situation, it is imperative to promote strategies that provide an alternative to detention and custodial sentences for children. 

This report examines the potential of restorative justice programmes to facilitate conflict resolution and provide appropriate protection to children. This applies to the justice system, whether children are victims, offenders or witnesses, but it also applies in a range of other contexts, including at school, in residential care units, in social welfare settings and in the community. 

The primary purpose of restorative justice is just that — to restore justice. Within families, schools, communities, organizations, civil society and the State, restorative justice provides peaceful conflict resolution and contributes to cohesive and democratic societies. 

In many countries, restorative justice may be perceived as a new and unfamiliar concept. However, in a number of traditional societies restorative justice values, such as healing, reconciliation and mutual respect, have long served to resolve conflict and strengthen community bonds. Indeed, restorative justice derives from ancient forms of community justice, practiced around the world, that focus on establishing reconciliation between offenders and those affected by the offence, in order to restore social harmony. 

In recent decades, traditional forms of restorative justice have started to be adopted in both  judicial and non-judicial settings, a process that is resulting in a paradigm shift away from  retributive models of justice. Rather than assess how much punishment is inflicted,  restorative justice measures how much harm is repaired or how much recurrence of violence is  prevented through an effective process of reintegration of young offenders into society.