Responding to bereavement, grief and loss: charting the troubled relationship between research and practice in youth offending services

Hester, Richard and Taylor, Wayne (2011). Responding to bereavement, grief and loss: charting the troubled relationship between research and practice in youth offending services. Mortality: Promoting the interdisciplinary study of death and dying, 16(3) pp. 191–203.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13576275.2011.586121

Abstract

This paper is concerned with the professional response to bereavement, grief and loss experienced by children and young people subject to criminal justice interventions. It looks at the most common responses within the youth offending service and secure estate to this ‘need’ and asks what this says about the nexus between theory, research and practice. Here the authors draw on both criminological research and the literature around death and dying to discuss what is appropriate, what is ethical, and ‘what works’ – if anything - in such interventions. They argue that interpretations of the Risk Factor Prevention Paradigm (RFPP) – the currently dominant ‘mode of understanding’ in youth justice – and risk management can result in the relative neglect of bereavement and loss as ‘welfare issues’ beyond the remit of those engaged in offender rehabilitation. The paradigm’s focus on individual pathology also tends to militate against youth practitioner involvement in more social and community-orientated responses to bereavement and loss, despite growing evidence from around the world of the efficacy of such restorative approaches. The authors conclude by reflecting on the call to ‘bridge the gap’ (Bridging Work Group, 2005) between research and practice in bereavement, asking how a similar process might be facilitated within youth justice.

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