A leading children’s campaigner has called on youth offending
policy makers to change tack and look at the importance of
sustained caring relationships in preventing children from
Speaking at a conference on preventive work with children,
organised by Pavilion in partnership with Community Care, Camila
Batmangheldjh, co-ordinating director of children’s charity Kids
Company, said that the current approach of trying to get children
to empathise with their victims did not work.
“They [youth offending workers] say ‘you harmed your victim, don’t
you realise’? And the child is thinking, ‘I don’t care’,” she said.
Youth offending policy makers instead needed to look at recent
neurobiological research which showed the negative impact the lack
of a sustained caring relationship can have on a child’s brain
chemistry, she added.
Research demonstrated how so-called hard to reach children could
only be made more empathetic through sustained caring and loving
relationships. “The policy of preventive youth offending is really
behind,” she said.
Batmangheldjh added that many of the children who she worked with
saw committing a crime as the way to access services. “Commit a
crime and get caught and then you get everything you need,” she
said, explaining their point of view.