Restorative Justice conferencing and the youth offender: Exploring the role of oral language competence Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Restorative Justice is an approach to responding to youth offending that aims to be collaborative and conciliatory rather than adversarial. In this respect, it is a welcome innovation in justice, welfare, and educational settings, and is gaining favour around the world. To date, however, the Restorative Justice literature has not considered the possible implications of unidentified language impairment in the young offenders who are asked to participate in face-to-face conferences with their victim(s).The aims of this paper are (1) to bring two paradigms together: Restorative Justice on the one hand, and the literature on language and social cognition impairments in vulnerable and socially marginalized young people on the other; (2) to stimulate awareness and interest in this aspect of public policy and practice by speech-language pathologists; and (3) to suggest some research questions that need to be tackled from an oral language competence perspective.A narrative review of the relevant literature pertaining to both Restorative Justice and oral language competence in vulnerable young people was conducted, with particular emphasis on the implications of the undetected language impairments as a source of possible unintended harm to both victims and offenders in Restorative Justice conferences.This is the first paper that specifically addresses the oral language skills of vulnerable and socially marginalized young people with respect to their capacity to participate in Restorative Justice conferences.It is important that speech-language pathologists contribute their specialized knowledge and clinical skills to public policy-making and debate, and practice that pertains to marginalized young people who may have undetected oral language impairments. Speech-language pathology as a profession is well positioned to plan and execute important programmes of research on this growing approach to dealing with youth offending and reducing recidivism.

publication date

  • 2011