Care-criminalisation: the involvement of children in out-of-home care in the New South Wales criminal justice system

This article discusses the involvement in the New South Wales criminal justice system of a cohort of children in out-of-home care. The paper reports the findings of a four-year research project that investigated the relationship between the child welfare and justice systems as experienced by a cohor...

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Published in:The Australian and New Zealand journal of criminology
Main Author: McFarlane, Kathleen (Author)
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
Published: 2018
In:The Australian and New Zealand journal of criminology
Year: 2018, Volume: 51, Issue: 3, Pages: 412-433
Online Access: Volltext (Resolving-System)
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Summary:This article discusses the involvement in the New South Wales criminal justice system of a cohort of children in out-of-home care. The paper reports the findings of a four-year research project that investigated the relationship between the child welfare and justice systems as experienced by a cohort of children in the New South Wales Children’s Court criminal jurisdiction. Analysis of 160 case files identified that children in out-of-home care appeared before the Children’s Court on criminal charges at disproportionate rates compared to children who were not in out-of-home care. The out-of-home care cohort had a different and negative experience of the justice system, entering it at a significantly younger age and being more likely to experience custodial remand, than children who had not been in out-of-home care. While both cohorts shared many of the risk factors common to young offenders appearing before the Children’s Court, the out-of-home care cohort experienced significant additional disadvantage within the care environment (‘care-criminalisation’), such that living arrangements designed to protect them from harm instead created the environment for offending. The paper concludes by arguing that a paucity of research exists regarding the drivers and dynamics of care-criminalisation and that more research is needed to explore the criminogenic impacts of a childhood spent in out-of-home care.
ISSN:1837-9273
DOI:10.1177/0004865817723954