Despite decades-old warnings about the next global pandemic, no one could have imagined a few years ago how dramatically COVID-19 would impact all our lives. Yet we know now how deeply the relationship between people and public institutions has been affected. And that certainly includes the relationship with systems and actors that are responsible for justice in our societies. Amidst these challenges and changes, children have been especially vulnerable, and they are the focus of this learning report.
While the pandemic has demonstrated the ways in which justice systems fall short, it has also presented opportunities to adapt and improve. Understanding what children need and want from the justice system and how they experience interactions with various actors is critical, if we want to improve justice for children. Collecting data and evidence from professionals and from children themselves about what works, helps design targeted policy solutions.
The Justice for All report emphasizes: ‘Justice systems fail children when they are victims of injustice. They are often unable to access justice institutions or lack the support to participate in proceedings. They also fail them when they come into conflict with the law. Young people are more vulnerable to the negative psychological impacts of harsh punitive measures. They often have less knowledge and confidence than adults to claim their rights and seek redress.’ (Task Force on Justice, 2019, p. 59).
The Pathfinders’ Working Group ‘Justice for Children, Justice for All’ was established to address justice gaps faced by children around the world. Justice for Children has intrinsic importance, and it is critical to enable opportunities for children to reach their full potential. The pandemic has demonstrated just how important it is for justice systems and actors to be tuned into the justice problems children face, and adapt systems and approaches to meet their needs effectively. Achieving justice for all, was agreed as a global goal in SDG16 of the 2030 Agenda. Clearly, we cannot have justice for all if we leave children behind. This report is an important step to ensuring we understand what children need, help them resolve and prevent the justice problems they face and create a world in which they too have equal access to justice.
Davidson, J., Karadzhov, D., Shields, S. & Brown, A. 2022, The Fragility of Justice for Children during COVID-19: Providers' and Policymakers' Perspectives on Implications and Mitigation Strategies: Findings from the International COVID 4P Log Project, Inspiring Children’s Futures Learning Report Series 9/2022. Available at: https://strathprints.strath.ac.uk/81288/