“Children in trouble with the law should never be named and shamed” – SCYJ publishes new report

SCYJ has published a new report on the naming and shaming of children involved in the justice system. It is available to download here.

We find that the law on naming and shaming is not fit for purpose and should be reformed; it is inconsistent, jeopardises children’s rehabilitation and life chances, and unfairly penalises the siblings of children who offend.

The coverage of the recent tragic murder of schoolteacher Ann Maguire highlighted the ridiculous inconsistencies in the law. A national newspaper named the boy accused of her murder before he was charged. Now it would be illegal to do so.

When children are identified by the media, the details of their often troubled backgrounds are publicised, as are details of their sisters and brothers lives. It can also prevent children moving on from their past – their offending history will be on the internet in perpetuity.

SCYJ believes that the law and its practice need to be changed.  In this new report by Dr Di Hart, “What’s in a name? The identification of children in trouble with the law”, we call for a ban on identification of children in trouble with the law for criminal or anti-social behaviour, at any stage in the case, including before charge.

Penelope Gibbs, Chair of SCYJ, says:

It is not in the public interest for children to be named and shamed by the media, and have their crimes and misdemeanours in social media for ever.  These children have done wrong, but they need to rebuild their lives and naming and shaming them makes it harder for them to turn their back on crime.

If we want safer communities and fewer victims, we need to do everything possible to rehabilitate children who commit crime.  Exposing them and their family to public vilification will make it more, not less, likely that they will go on to commit more crimes.”