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date: 15 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Despite comprehensive international standards, children’s rights continue to be breached in juvenile justice systems around the world. This chapter suggests that conceptualizing children, autonomy, and—by extension—their rights as relational may improve rights protection for children who are in conflict with the law. It offers four justifications for a relational approach to juvenile justice—the descriptive, methodological, normative, and conceptual. The chapter then applies a relational framework to the specific context of juvenile justice rights in England and Wales and identifies three jurisprudential trends which, it suggests, indicate a partial shift by (some) courts towards a relational approach. However, there is still a considerable way to go before relationality goes beyond the superficial to become fully embedded as the basis for children’s rights in juvenile justice law. The chapter concludes by suggesting therefore, that as well as examining how the concept of autonomy is conceptualized in juvenile justice rights, we must also unpack and explore how the courts understand the concept of autonomy per se, if we are to achieve greater compliance with international rights standards.

Keywords: juvenile justice, children’s rights, relationality, relational autonomy

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