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Giving Back: Mapping report on European promising and proven practices of participatory youth practices in youth justice.

14 March 2023

In April 2021 the Netherlands Helsinki Committee (NHC), Young Perspectives (YOPE) and the Dutch Custodial Institutions Agency started the Giving Back project. The Giving Back project strives to create meaningful youth participation by including young people with lived experiences (experienced experts) in the training of justice professionals. The main goal of Giving Back is to improve the child-friendly practices of European youth justice professionals working in Juvenile Justice Facilities (JJF’s) and to stimulate child-centred learning among European Union Member States.

Around Europe, various exciting initiatives are emerging whereby young people with lived experiences share their stories, are included, or even are the driving force behind systemic change and better care practices. One of the objectives of the Giving Back project is to increase our understanding of these participatory youth practices, with a specific focus on how young people are included in the training of justice professionals. In order to stimulate child-centred learning among European Union Member States, similar practices in Europe have been identified by setting up a mapping activity.

The mapping activity took place between July 2021 and March 2022 and was carried out by NHC and YOPE. We used a combination of methods (e.g., survey, interviews and desk-research) to reach a wide range of organisations and present qualitative insights. During the mapping activity the primary focus was to find and map proven or promising European practices that included young people in the training of justice professionals. However, after a thorough search process NHC and YOPE found very few initiatives that focused specifically on the training of youth justice professionals through participatory methods. Therefore, the decision was made to broaden the mapping activity by including participatory youth practices within a broader range of care and in decision-making processes. The Giving Back project takes a mandatory step towards prioritizing youth participation in the training of youth justice professionals.

The first result of the mapping activity is a document that presents the outcomes of the mapping activity  and can be found here. The results of the mapping activity will also be presented in an interactive/visual way on an online platform that promotes the exchange of knowledge regarding the implementation of youth participation models in youth justice.

Next steps

NHC and YOPE want to continue to learn and build upon this mapping activity. So, to organisations that operate within the EU and want to share their expertise with the research team: please feel free to share your initiative with

Next to the mapping activity, NHC and YOPE will:

  1. Visit three countries with promising practices that were identified during the mapping exercise.
  2. Host online learning sessions that will allow the broader European Network to participate in an international exchange of promising youth-participation based practices.
  3. Create a manifesto advocating for the inclusion of young people with lived experience in the development and implementation of penitentiary staff training.

A photo from the last day of a visit in Ireland.