The Youth Justice System

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Cover page Introduction to area of speech pathology practice to be covered in professional resource In Australia, the youth justice system deals with young people, aged 10-17, who have committed, or allegedly committed a crime. The youth justice system is made up of police, courts and supervision (custodial or community-based) (gov website). The high prevalence of communication impairments within youth justice settings necessitates the need for speech pathology intervention with this population. This background statement will outline the role of speech pathology in working with vulnerable populations in schools and youth justice settings. Target audience for professional resource A professional development package is will be developed for …show more content…

Statistics indicate that around 50 % of young offenders have clinically significant, yet previously unidentified language impairment (Snow & Powell ....) Difficulties with receptive, expressive and pragmatic language skills can hinder a person 's ability fairly access the justice system, whether as a witness, victim or defendant. Snow & Powell (2002) stated that young offenders are at high risk of having difficulties with; auditory processing, manipulating and understanding abstract linguistic concepts (figurative language, metaphor ambiguities) and difficulty with using story grammar (a universal structure for relaying information in a logical sequential manner) to generate a simple narrative. The above-listed skills are important for participating in processes of the justice system, for example, "reporting a crime to police, making a formal statement, providing testimony in court, or simply interacting with police, court officials and lawyers" (SPA, 2013). However, unless a severe deficit is evident it is often assumed that individuals have sufficient communicative ability to adequately navigate the youth justice system as communication disabilities may not be obvious, and are often interpreted to be behavioural issues (e.g., non-compliance), poor intelligence, mental health, or learning difficulties (SPA, 2013) The above information necessitates the need for speech pathology …show more content…

SPA advocated for the employment of speech pathologists within criminal justice settings to provide screening, assessment and communication support for individuals with language impairments. Furthermore, SPA recommended that staff working in criminal justice settings, including, police and lawyers should be trained to identify communication difficulties and communication strategies that can be used depending on the language ability of the suspect, victim or witness. SPA asserted the importance of ensuring that information is accessible, for example through the use of easy English; and pictorial resources to aid receptive and expressive

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