Youth participation: On goals, means and tokens
This paper foregrounds the notion ‘participation’ in the context of formal social reaction to youth crime.
The concept has been central in discussions about youth justice, chiefly in relation to children’s rights
and interventions towards young people and their families.
The notion ‘participation’ as such has different origins, interpretations and applications. Especially in
the context of reactions to youth crime, there is a tension between the core rationales of ‘participation’
and the goals and conventions of youth justice institutions. Nevertheless, ‘participation’ is central in the
activating and responsibilising discourses and it came more prominently to the fore during the implementation of the most recent reform of youth justice (‘Youth Delinquency Decree’).
In the article, we outline the concept of (youth) participation and its different meanings as such, to then
zoom in on individual participation in institutional trajectories of minors. We unpack the different rationales of ‘participation’, discuss how it is integrated in the context of juvenile justice and highlight the
corresponding paradoxes. We aim to stimulate a discussion about the premises, goals and prerequisites
for meaningful youth participation.