Most juvenile crime is committed in mid adolescence. Much of it is petty and needs no more than a firm caution and plenty of educational, work and recreational opportunities. A relatively small but significant proportion commit more serious crimes. There are various reasons for this but, regardless of socio-economic conditions, most are struggling with emotions that they can’t cope with. They are in varying degrees very angry, scared, lonely or wary, usually for good reason, and without help or understanding, they turn to crime as some form of release or expression.
The Place2Be recognises that these teenagers were young children but only a few years before – and that most of their emotional problems were brewing in childhood well before they got involved in crime. And so we believe that it makes sense to make contact with them early and offer support before things build up out of proportion.
The Place 2Be is basically an early intervention service and we know that we can prevent some children from entering the youth justice system at a later stage.
It is a voluntary organisation that has developed during the last 15 years a highly valued and respected school based counselling service in 17 regions across England, Scotland and Wales. We work in 155 schools, mostly primary. We support teachers and parents; we offer a self referral service for all children in the schools (approx 50000 children) and we provide individual and group counselling to those children who particularly need it.
Children, by and large as a result of our intervention, are in a better position to learn and access their education; parents feel more confident in handling their children; teachers feel better supported in understanding and responding to the children in their classrooms. We are encouraged by the many positive comments of head teachers who are quite clear that we make a big difference to the overall well being of the whole school and to the mental health of the children.
We very much want to be part of the coalition to call for the depoliticisation of young people and for more preventative and humane ways of addressing the problems in youth crime.