Experiential peers cultivate a participation culture in youth justice

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    The aim of this viewpoint paper is to explore the concept of experiential peer support, which involves individuals who have lived experiences of using care and justice services. This paper discusses whether experiential peer support can contribute to developing a participatory culture in youth justice practice.
    This viewpoint paper will critically evaluate the relational power of experiential peers. Particular attention will be paid to the key components of relational practices by reflecting on ways to enhance the voice of the child within participatory and child first approaches. The paper draws on a range of evidence and research to explore whether inclusion of a lived experience perspective can foster participatory cultures.
    Experiential peers can create a participatory youth justice culture, which can positively impact on desistance for justice involved children.
    Further research needs to be undertaken to extrapolate the key characteristics of effective experiential peer support. This includes discussion on whether recruitment of wounded healers into professional youth justice roles can enhance participation in youth justice settings and construct conditions for social growth to develop in youth justice practice.
    The author of this viewpoint paper has personal experience of care, youth incarceration and professional experience of youth justice participation practice, providing a unique vantage point and contribution to the desistance and rehabilitation literature.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)78-90
    JournalSafer Communities
    Issue number2
    Early online date16 Jan 2023
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2023


    • desistance
    • lived experience
    • child first
    • legitimacy
    • narrative scripts
    • redemption
    • youth justice
    • care experience


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