Source: (2003) In, Lode Walgrave, ed., Repositioning Restorative Justice. Devon: Willan Publishing. Pp. 255-270.

As the authors of this essay point out, from the early twentieth century to the present the underlying premise of the Belgian juvenile justice system has been that youth need protection and re-education, not punishment. Interventions under this welfare approach have a number of distinctive characteristics. For example the nature and duration of the response to an offense has been governed not so much by the type of crime as by the personal qualities and circumstances of the offending juvenile. Yet in practical effect youth often perceived such interventions not as assistance but as punishment. Because of this and other factors, doubts have arisen as to the effectiveness of welfare-oriented interventions. Other approaches are now being discussed, varying from the welfare model to more repressive and punitive perspectives. In this context, the authors look at the prospects for restorative justice in Belgian juvenile justice. They specifically discuss initiatives in Flanders to set up mediation services, educational projects, and community service.