Source: (2006) A thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at The Australian National University.
This thesis combines an examination of children’s human rights (articulated largely in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child) with a review of psycho-social literature on children’s needs. It integrates the two disciplines thus creating a `needs-rights’ model regarding child victims. This model is then used to evaluate the criminal justice process and its successes (and failures) in meeting the needs and rights of child victims. Such an integrated needs-rights evaluation identifies not only the difficulties associated with testifying in court and being interviewed multiple times. It goes beyond these topical issues, and uncovers other shortcomings of the current legal system. Â¶ The thesis further explores an alternative to the criminal justice process — that of restorative justice — and examines its applicability to child victims. Unlike the criminal justice paradigm, restorative justice fosters the equal participation of the stakeholders (in particular victims, offenders and their communities), and focuses on their emotional and social rehabilitation while respecting their human rights. To explore the suitability of restorative justice for child victims, five restorative justice schemes from New Zealand, Australia and Canada and their evaluation studies are reviewed. Each of these schemes has included child victims, and most of them have dealt with either sexual assaults of children or family violence and abuse. Yet each of the evaluated schemes illuminates different concerns and proposes varying strategies for meeting the needs-rights of child victims. Â¶ While these schemes demonstrate the significant potential of restorative justice to better address the full scope of the needs and rights of child victims, they uncover emerging concerns as well. Therefore, in the last part of the thesis, the needs-rights model is used once again to derive subsidiary principles for action, to maximize the benefits of restorative justice for child victims and minimize the related risks. A complex set of needs and rights is managed by a method of grouping them into needs-rights clusters and deriving from them simple heuristics for practitioners to follow. This clustering method of needs-rights-heuristics is a methodological contribution of the research to the psychology of law. (author’s abstract)
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