Youth Restorative Justice Services

Young Person Charged with Assault to Severe Injury

  • Young person responsible: K aged 14 at the time of the offence
  • Person Harmed: M aged 13 at the time of the Assault

K was referred to Sacro’s Fife Youth Justice Service from the Children’s Reporter as a diversion from the Children’s Hearing System, should K engage. K had previously been referred to Sacro’s Youth Justice Service but had initially refused to engage. K had been charged with Assault to Severe Injury which had occurred at school and was against a younger pupil. This was K’s first offence and his behaviour at school had raised no concerns beyond this one incident, and one other when he left a classroom as he felt angry. However, his behaviour at home was causing difficulties. K’s support needs were to address anger management and to help K appreciate the severity of the consequences of his actions. During conversation with the Children’s Reporter she advised that M’s mother has been in regular contact with her and felt that they, as a family, and in particularly M, had been left to deal with the aftermath of the incident without any support and were still traumatised by what had happened to M. The Reporter and the writer discussed the possibility of a restorative intervention as a way forward for M and his family and to enable them to be able to have some closure and move on with their life. It was agreed that once a visit had taken place with K and to ascertain his level of remorse and how he felt about making amends, it was agreed the writer would re- contact the Children’s Reporter to provide feedback.

History leading up to and including the offence:

M alleged he had been bullied by K for a number of months for no apparent reason and the bullying was alleged to have occurred during break times and involved K putting M into a headlock and knuckling his head. Just prior to the incident M was approached from behind by K and put in a choke hold, K then said “Free digs on M”. A witness had seen this happen and threw a teacake at K to get him to release his grip on M. M then picked up a teacake and threw it towards K but it landed on the ground. K chased M and grabbed hold of him, kneed him in the eye and pulled him to the ground; K also stamped on his head and continued to kick him to the head and body while he lay on the ground. M was taken to the school’s first aid room and the school contacted M’s mother who collected him and took him to minor injuries at the hospital. The Police were contacted thereafter.

M was treated at the hospital for a swollen and bruised cheek bone and as a result of urine tests was found to have blood in his urine which indicated trauma to his kidneys, an area which he had been struck during the assault. M was later referred to Maxiofacial for his facial injuries. M also had follow up appointments at the hospital to continue with regular urine tests as he continued to have blood in these tests. M was also diagnosed with probable fractured ribs and reduced lung function as a result. Since the assault M is still undergoing consultation with the with Maxiofacial team and due to the trauma has been seeing a counsellor.

At the initial meeting with K and his mother , the writer explained the reason for the referral and what this service can offer. K admitted that he had gone too far and that he had hit M too hard. K accepted that he had an anger problem but this was mainly at home. K’s mother advised that K does not like being told “No”. K demonstrated remorse for his actions and was willing to work with this service to address the offence and to complete work on his anger management. The writer discussed with K regarding making amends to M; K said he willing to meet with M to apologise for his actions and to re-assure him that it will not happen again. K and his mother were shocked at the severity of M’s injuries as they appeared to be unaware of the extent of trauma caused by the assault. A consent form was signed by K and his mother and a “What do you think” assessment was carried out. The only risks highlighted from the assessment were anger management concerns. It was agreed that a Victim Awareness Programme be completed along with Anger Management.

Person harmed (M)

After further discussion with the Children’s Reporter she contacted M’s mother and an initial appointment was made for the writer to visit M and his mother to discuss what the Sacro Restrorative Justice service can offer. During the visit and follow on visits it was very clear that M was still traumatised from what had happened to him and had sustained injuries that he was still receiving hospital consultations for. There were other personal medical issues that M did not wish for the writer to disclose to K. M’s mother was unhappy with the way the school had dealt with things and although K was told he must not approach M and was to stay away from him within school M still felt unsafe within school and within the community. The restorative service was explained to M and his mother and although they felt it would be good for M they needed time to think it over and discuss it as a family. This process took quite some time as M’s mother also wanted the potential impact with M’s counsellor first before making a final decision. M and his parents made the decision to go ahead and meet with K and his mum at a Restorative Justice Conference as they felt it would finally bring them closure and help M to move forward and feel safe again; they also wanted to enjoy Christmas without this hanging over them.

Prior to any RJC taking place it is important that the appropriate amount of work is carried out to ensure its success and this was completed with both parties over a number of visits.

Programme of work completed with K:

Victim Awareness Programme

At the initial programme session K completed a FACTS exercise using the before, during and after model. This allowed K to identify the facts surrounding the offence and to allow him to identify where and when different choices could have been made. This would also be used as an explanation for M when it came to the RJC. The second session K completed an exercise using the Ripple Effect which encouraged K to think about the consequences of his actions and to reflect on how and to what degree M, his parents and others have been affected. This also demonstrated the significant impact of K’s actions and to develop empathy. The final session in this programme K worked through the FUTURE using the staircase of intervention. This exercise enabled K to look to his future, to highlight the consequences of offending and further offending behaviour and how offending behaviour can impact upon his life and career choices. K also completed an Anger Management Programme which consisted of “distinguishing anger”, “aggression and violence”, “beliefs”, “ways to control anger and coping strategies” and lastly an action plan which would help K deal with things that make him angry in the future.

Restorative Justice Conference

The Restorative Justice Conference took place at a neutral venue where K was able to give an explanation of what had happened to M and both his parents. K explained that he had taken things too far and how he regrets his actions. K also accepted responsibility for bullying M. M was then given the opportunity to explain how he had been affected by K’s actions and the trauma he had suffered as a result. K’s parents explained how it had affected them all as a family; it was clearly an emotional time for both sets of families during the conference. K apologised for his actions and gave M and his parent’s reassurance that it would not happen again. K’s mum also explained how she had been shocked at the severity of the assault and how she had felt when she realised what M had gone through. K’s mum apologised to M and his parents for K’s actions and was very emotional and tearful at this stage.

M and his parents accepted K’s apology and thanked K for accepting responsibility for his actions and for apologising and giving a reassurance that it would not happen again.

K demonstrated excellent commitment to working with this service; he attended all planned sessions and engaged fully during each session. K showed an incredible amount of bravery in facing M and both his parents in what was a very emotional and stressful time for all parties concerned. K and M are now able to move on with their lives and M is no longer fearful of K.

K and his mum both reported that K’s anger issues have improved and although there are still little “niggles”, K is now able to deal with his anger without it escalating into anything more serious.