International Perspectives on Child-responsive Courts
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Child friendly justice and access to justice for children are explicit concerns for the European Union, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Council of Europe and the Child Rights International Network. This study examines court systems as child-responsive by eliciting the views of judicial decision makers on child protection cases (n = 1,479) in four legal systems (England, Finland, Norway and the USA (represented by California)), based on an online survey. In this paper, we asked judicial officials who have the authority to make care order decisions how they view the child-friendliness of the courts. We presented them with six statements representing standard features of child responsive courts. Findings show that there is considerable room for improving both structure and practice of the court proceedings, for example the use of child friendly language and child-sensitive time frames. There were variations across states, and some variation across type of decision maker. Implications for the development of education and training about the opportunities for children’s engagement are considered.