Research from the perspective of children.

Bower, C, Watkins, RE, Mutch, RC, Marriott, R, Freeman, J, Kippin, NR, Safe, B, Pestell, C, Cheung, CSC, Shield, H, Tarratt, L, Springall, A, Taylor, J, Walker, N, Argiro, E, Leitao, S, Hamilton, S, Condon, C, Passmore, HM & Giglia, R (2018) Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and Youth Justice: A Prevalence Study among Young People Sentenced to Detention in Western Australia. BMJ Open, 8, e019605. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2017-019605.


This study aims to estimate the prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) among young people in youth detention in Australia. It used a multidisciplinary assessment according to the Australian Guide to the Diagnosis of FASD to assess all young people aged 10 years - 17 years 11 months and sentenced to detention in the only youth detention centre in Western Australia. The study period was from May 2015 to December 2016. Neurodevelopmental impairments due to FASD can predispose young people to engagement with the law. The study found high prevalence of FASD and severe neurodevelopmental impairment, the majority of which had not been previously identified. The findings highlight the vulnerability of young people, particularly Aboriginal youth, within the justice system and their significant need for improved diagnosis.

Access paper here. 


Gal, Tali (2011) Child Victims and Restorative Justice: A Needs-Rights Model. New York: Oxford University Press.

About this book:

Children are the group most likely to be victimized yet least likely to report the crimes against them. Because of their unique vulnerability, an elaborate set of protections tries to secure their safety at home, in school, and in the community, yet they often experience further trauma inside the very criminal justice system designed to punish those who harm them. Such a system can leave child victims without emotional healing and a sense of justice because it does not consider the full scope of their wishes, interests, and rights. This failure can be attributed to the system's tendency to view children as objects of protection instead of legitimate rights-holders.

Here, using a nuanced, multi-dimensional theory of children's interrelated rights and needs vis a vis victimization, Tali Gal presents an innovative restorative justice model for repairing harms and rebuilding relationships in the wake of crimes against children. It validates empirically documented children's needs- such as telling their stories, asking questions, and a sense of autonomy and control over the proceedings - and holds their associated and often-overlooked rights - such as rehabilitation and their overarching best interests - paramount. The rich theoretical underpinnings of the book are vividly illustrated by examples of successful restorative justice programs involving children (including the highly controversial inclusion of child victims of sexual assault). In addition, a set of eight heuristics provides a convenient reference for restorative justice programs to ensure that they safeguard the full range of child victims' needs and rights at all times.

Download Review by Paivi Honkatukia.


Bessell, Sharon & Gal, Tali (2009) Forming Partnerships: The Human Rights of Children in Need of Care and Protection. The International Journal of Children's Rights, 17, 283-298.


The authors propose a model for engaging children in child protection which recognizes their needs, human rights and citizenship. In the conclusion to their paper, the authors propose that this approach would afford children dignity, respect and give them some control over their lives. They argue that recognizing children as citizens gives status to their claims for human rights and meeting of basic needs.  Furthermore, they through recognizing children’s citizenship, due respect is given to the responsibilities and roles that many children shoulder, but which are often ignored or undervalued, including for the care of family members. Finally, the authors conclude: “we have sought to synthesise children’s human rights, basic needs and citizenship into the concept of partnership … Partnership with children is a means of redefining the relationship between children and those who hold power over them (most – and usually all adults with whom they come into contact in the care and protection system). Partnership may provide a means of developing genuinely child-inclusive approaches to care and protection, that value children’s views and experiences and engage with children on their own – rather than on adults – terms” (p. 296).

Download paper here.