Supporting Young People Involved in Offending up to 21 Years Old: Extending the Whole System Approach

Fiona Dyer, Kevin Carter

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The Whole System Approach (WSA) was introduced in Scotland as an effective way of working with young people aged 8-18 who are involved in offending behaviours. Yet the problems faced by the majority of young people who are involved in offending do not simply vanish when they turn 18 and young people do not become adults over night. This paper argues that the help and support offered to young people under the age of 18 through the Whole System Approach should be extended to young people aged up to at least 21 years. Drawing on child development theories and knowledge about the childhood experiences many young people in the justice system have faced, this paper suggests that addressing the impact of these issues through a child-centred lens offers these young people more support to understand the adult system they are in; helps to address their behaviour in a way that is meaningful to them; and ultimately should reduce their involvement in offending.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationGlasgow
PublisherUniversity of Strathclyde
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • whole system approach
  • young offenders
  • child offenders
  • early intervention
  • youth justice
  • criminal justice policy

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