Absconding from care: The criminalisation of missing children

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePresentation only

Abstract

In Australia and internationally, children in out–of-home care (OOHC) are significantly over-represented in the criminal justice system. Our research sought to understand the underlying causes of the cohort’s involvement in the criminal justice system. This seminar presents qualitative data with 41 residential care and criminal justice professionals interviewed between 2014-16 in regional and metropolitan New South Wales, Australia. We interviewed key frontline professionals - NSW Police Force, Juvenile Justice officers, defence lawyers and non-government OOHC organisations on their perceptions of what drove the cohort’s over-representation in the criminal justice system and what interventions might arrest the trend. A key theme emerging from the research was the number of children absconding from care and the way in which the system responded to these children. International research has demonstrated that children absconding from care placements are generally viewed by police and carers as problematic. Our research not only confirms this but also identifies that the particular reporting systems in place designed to protect children actually serve to further compound the issue by conflating absconding with delinquency. This can lead to devastating outcomes for some children, as seen in the police failure to act on child sexual exploitation/trafficking in Rotherham, UK. Our research has clearly established that the institutional responses to absconding from OOHC contributes to the cohort’s overrepresentation in the criminal justice system.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sep 2016
EventCentre for Law and Justice Research Seminar - Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, Australia
Duration: 29 Sep 201629 Sep 2016

Seminar

SeminarCentre for Law and Justice Research Seminar
CountryAustralia
CityBathurst
Period29/09/1629/09/16

Fingerprint

criminalization
justice
home care
police
reporting system
number of children
delinquency
lawyer
exploitation
cause
trend

Grant Number

  • 0000101991

Cite this

McFarlane, K., Colvin, E., Gerard, A., & McGrath, A. (2016). Absconding from care: The criminalisation of missing children. Paper presented at Centre for Law and Justice Research Seminar, Bathurst, Australia.
McFarlane, Katherine ; Colvin, Emma ; Gerard, Alison ; McGrath, Andrew. / Absconding from care: The criminalisation of missing children. Paper presented at Centre for Law and Justice Research Seminar, Bathurst, Australia.
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McFarlane, K, Colvin, E, Gerard, A & McGrath, A 2016, 'Absconding from care: The criminalisation of missing children' Paper presented at Centre for Law and Justice Research Seminar, Bathurst, Australia, 29/09/16 - 29/09/16, .

Absconding from care: The criminalisation of missing children. / McFarlane, Katherine; Colvin, Emma; Gerard, Alison; McGrath, Andrew.

2016. Paper presented at Centre for Law and Justice Research Seminar, Bathurst, Australia.

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePresentation only

TY - CONF

T1 - Absconding from care: The criminalisation of missing children

AU - McFarlane, Katherine

AU - Colvin, Emma

AU - Gerard, Alison

AU - McGrath, Andrew

PY - 2016/9/28

Y1 - 2016/9/28

N2 - In Australia and internationally, children in out–of-home care (OOHC) are significantly over-represented in the criminal justice system. Our research sought to understand the underlying causes of the cohort’s involvement in the criminal justice system. This seminar presents qualitative data with 41 residential care and criminal justice professionals interviewed between 2014-16 in regional and metropolitan New South Wales, Australia. We interviewed key frontline professionals - NSW Police Force, Juvenile Justice officers, defence lawyers and non-government OOHC organisations on their perceptions of what drove the cohort’s over-representation in the criminal justice system and what interventions might arrest the trend. A key theme emerging from the research was the number of children absconding from care and the way in which the system responded to these children. International research has demonstrated that children absconding from care placements are generally viewed by police and carers as problematic. Our research not only confirms this but also identifies that the particular reporting systems in place designed to protect children actually serve to further compound the issue by conflating absconding with delinquency. This can lead to devastating outcomes for some children, as seen in the police failure to act on child sexual exploitation/trafficking in Rotherham, UK. Our research has clearly established that the institutional responses to absconding from OOHC contributes to the cohort’s overrepresentation in the criminal justice system.

AB - In Australia and internationally, children in out–of-home care (OOHC) are significantly over-represented in the criminal justice system. Our research sought to understand the underlying causes of the cohort’s involvement in the criminal justice system. This seminar presents qualitative data with 41 residential care and criminal justice professionals interviewed between 2014-16 in regional and metropolitan New South Wales, Australia. We interviewed key frontline professionals - NSW Police Force, Juvenile Justice officers, defence lawyers and non-government OOHC organisations on their perceptions of what drove the cohort’s over-representation in the criminal justice system and what interventions might arrest the trend. A key theme emerging from the research was the number of children absconding from care and the way in which the system responded to these children. International research has demonstrated that children absconding from care placements are generally viewed by police and carers as problematic. Our research not only confirms this but also identifies that the particular reporting systems in place designed to protect children actually serve to further compound the issue by conflating absconding with delinquency. This can lead to devastating outcomes for some children, as seen in the police failure to act on child sexual exploitation/trafficking in Rotherham, UK. Our research has clearly established that the institutional responses to absconding from OOHC contributes to the cohort’s overrepresentation in the criminal justice system.

KW - Out-of-home-care

KW - Criminalisation

KW - absconding

KW - missing from care

M3 - Presentation only

ER -

McFarlane K, Colvin E, Gerard A, McGrath A. Absconding from care: The criminalisation of missing children. 2016. Paper presented at Centre for Law and Justice Research Seminar, Bathurst, Australia.