The International Journal of Restorative Justice

Article

The personal is political: the restorative dialectic of child inclusion

Keywords Child participation, feminist analysis, intersectionality, family group conferencing, child sexual abuse
Authors Joan Pennell
Author's information

333563 Joan Pennell
Joan Pennell is Professor Emerita with the Center for Family and Community Engagement, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, USA. Contact author: jpennell@ncsu.edu. Funding: The Newfoundland & Labrador implementation research was supported by Health Canada [formerly Health & Welfare], Family Violence Prevention Division; Justice Canada, Discretionary Funds Section; Solicitor General of Canada; and Labrador Inuit Health Commission. The North Carolina work was supported by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Social Services. Disclosure Statement: There are no financial conflicts of interest. Geolocation: The family group conference example is from Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
  • Abstract

      The dialectic of the ‘personal is political’ is starkly evident in the lives of abused and neglected children and their families involved with child protection services. State intervention into families renders private matters into public issues. Restorative approaches in the child protection context offer a vital test of their efficacy in reshaping family and family-state relationships. Drawing upon the author’s experience as a young feminist and child protection worker, this article identifies three dynamics of the restorative dialectic: children’s testimony, women’s responsibilisation and child validation. A case study of a sexually abused teen demonstrates how the restorative process of family group conferencing transforms these dynamics. Children’s testimony of giving evidence in court becomes speaking for/speaking with; women blaming becomes collective responsibilisation; and child protectionism becomes validation of children and their cultural heritage. Together these movements uphold a relational approach to restorative justice that nudges norms toward greater equity.

Please sign in to access the article



Did you receive an activation code but no access yet? Please activate your code here.

Forgot your password? Request new password.

Purchase access

You can purchase online access to this article. You will receive 24 hrs access @ € 17,50 (excl. VAT).

24 hrs access € 17,50 (excl. VAT)

Activate your code

If you have an access code, please activate it here.