Implementing Restorative Justice with Child Victims

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Unión Europea

The Directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime (hereafter, the ‘Victims Directive’), adopted on 25th October 2012, strengthens the rights of victims and their families to information, support and protection, and lays out the procedural rights of victims when participating in criminal proceedings. It expects EU Member States (EUMS) to ensure that professionals are trained on victims’ needs.

Concretely, article 12 of The Directive establishes the right of victims to safeguards to ensure that «victims who choose to participate in restorative justice processes, have access to safe and competent restorative justice services». The Directive defines restorative justice (RJ) as «any process whereby the victim and the offender are enabled, if they freely consent, to participate actively in the resolution of matters arising from the criminal offence through the help of an impartial third party» (article 2).

Research in Europe and in other regions has revealed that victims report lower levels of fear and post-traumatic stress symptoms after a restorative justice process. Furthermore, these kinds of processes play a major role in enhancing guarantees for children and young people involved in the process, both as perpetrators and victims of harm, who may have particular vulnerabilities due to their young age.

The outcomes of such a process must be to restore as much as possible what has been lost, damaged or violated. Victims can regain some power over their lives by having the person who harmed them accountable directly to them, by receiving answers to their questions, and by telling their story of the harm and its impact. These needs are also met through apology, reparation and compensation. All these processes require communication, preferably face-to-face, between the parties.

The proactive attitude of European institutions on children’s rights in general, as well as child-friendly justice and victims' protection in particular, has created a favourable environment in the EU for justice reforms. However, in Europe far too few people who have been harmed participate in such meetings with those who have harmed them. Justice, education and other key systems seem reluctant, usually due to a lack of knowledge and experience about RJ, to enable most victims to gain access to restorative processes.

This context is the reason why the IJJO is launching the project ‘Implementing Restorative Justice with Child Victims’ (JUST/2015/RDAP/AG/VICT/9344). Its main objective will be to extend and adapt the research on RJ to demonstrate its effectiveness for young victims. Collaborating with the European Forum of Restorative Justice (EFRJ) on this project, the IJJO has decided to use the strength of two big European networks together and the experience and knowledge of the EFRJ on restorative justice to implement successful practices of juvenile restorative justice in the EU, in order to address the needs of young victims of crime committed by young offenders in the most satisfying ways.

The project will provide an opportunity for mutual learning between six countries, three of which are already using restorative justice with children successfully (the “mentor” partners), and the other three will implement observed restorative practices as part of a monitored pilot project (the “mentee” partners). In addition, in order to provide knowledge about good practices to a large pool of professionals, a practical guide on how to implement three RJ practices with children and youth will be created, and an online course will be developed based on it.

Main Activities

  • 3 pilot projects, based on a mentor-mentee relationship:
    • 3 field visits (Finland, Northern Ireland, Belgium)
    • 1 two day training session during the 3rd field visit (Belgium)
    • 3 monitoring visits (1 per country – Latvia, France, Bulgaria), as well as 2 half day meeting with national coalitions in 3 countries (Latvia, France, Bulgaria)
    • 1 two day internal training sessions in 3 countries (Latvia, France, Bulgaria)
    • ten months of concrete implementation of pilot projects in 3 countries (Latvia, France, Bulgaria)
  • Drafting of a practical guide on Implementing Restorative Justice with Children
  • Online training course based on the practical guide (2 sessions + adaptation in a self-directed course to remain online at the end of the project)
  • Final conference in Brussels


Click here to go to the project's web section on the IJJO website.


This project aims to successfully implement practices of juvenile restorative justice in the EU in order to address the needs of young victims of crime in the most satisfying ways. The specific objectives of the project are:

(a) To train professionals in three selected EUMS to the concrete use of RJ practices with child victims;

(b) To make RJ processes a more common response to crimes committed against and/or by young people in EU28, no matter the gravity of the crime or the age of the victim or offender;

(c) To protect and address the needs of young victims of crime through validated RJ processes;

(d) To participate to a better implementation of the Victims Directive (2012/29/EU);

(e) To participate to the implementation of the upcoming Directive on procedural safeguards for children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings, Article 19.3.


Expected Results

  • Common use of Restorative Justice processes as a response to crimes committed. against children in 3 selected mentee countries (Latvia, France, Bulgaria).
  • Better understanding and knowledge of Restorative Justice by juvenile justice. professionals and policy-makers in EU28.
  • Higher implementation rate of Restorative Justice practices in EU28.
  • Better implementation of Directive 2012/29/EU.
  • Functioning national coalitions on (juvenile) Restorative Justice in 3 MS (Latvia, France, Bulgaria).


  • A practical guide on concrete implementation of 3 types of juvenile restorative justice processes (in 7 EU languages) – 400 printed copies + electronic version.
  • An online training course based on the practical guide.
  • An external evaluation/monitoring report by the EFRJ on the pilot projects at the 6 months mark.
  • 3 national reports on the sustainability of pilot projects (1 per mentee country).
  • A series of videos (3x10 minutes) featuring children taking part in featured Restorative Justice processes in mentor countries.
  • Executive summary/flyer of project results (100 copies).
  • Newsletters, web-section, on-line promotion materials.
  • Advocacy material developed during the final conference.
  • Evaluation report on the project.


  • International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO)


  • European Forum of Restorative Justice (EFRJ)
  • National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) (Finland )
  • Youth Justice Agency (Northern Ireland)
  • Katholieke Universiteit Leuven,(KU Leuven) (Belgium)
  • Ulster University, (Northern Ireland)
  • State Probation Service (SPS) (Latvia)
  • PROVIDUS, (Latvia)
  • Direction de la Protection Judiciaire de la Jeunesse (DPJJ), French Ministry of Justice (France)
  • Institut Français de Justice Restaurative (IFJR) (France)
  • Social Activities and Practice Institute (SAPI) (Bulgaria)


Co-funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Union