The Pains and Gains of COVID-19: Challenges to Child First Justice in the Pandemic

Kathryn Hampson, Stephen Case, Ross Little

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The global COVID-19 pandemic has particularly affected justice-involved children. Youth justice policy changes and innovations have assisted communication and engagement with these vulnerable children during unprecedented times, while attempting to limit risks of contagion and criminalisation – all central tenets of the ‘Child First’ guiding principle for the Youth Justice System of England and Wales. While some changes have enhanced the experiences of some justice-involved children (gains), others have disproportionately disadvantaged justice-involved children in court, community and custody contexts (pains), increasing criminalisation, disengagement and anxiety. These pains of COVID-19 have effectively eroded the rights of this already-vulnerable group of children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-96
Number of pages21
JournalYouth Justice
Issue number1
Early online date21 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2023


  • COVID-19
  • Child First Youth Justice
  • England and Wales
  • Youth Justice Board
  • Youth Offending Teams
  • children’s rights
  • engagement
  • solitary confinement
  • youth criminalisation
  • youth justice


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