Young people become trainers for the juvenile justice system

Youthlab | | Movimento Globale per i Diritti dell’Infanzia


When a young person comes in conflict with the law, is arrested and even deprived of their liberty, they enters a new and intimidating world, run by adults who speak a language full of legal jargon. Almost by default a system-world captures and absorbs the young person and imposes its logic, rhythm and language. Most young people feel alienated and lost, which has a negative impact on their wellbeing, contact with professionals, perception of fairness of the procedures and ability to participate. This alienation process is largely a matter of language and communication, as many justice professionals speak in a merely legal and instrumental system-world language, which is a different language compared to what the young person knows and understands. 

Youth participation is one of the key values for the emancipation and realisation of children’s and adolescents’ rights as per the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, an element later taken up in the Guidelines on child-friendly justice of the Council of Europe and EU Directive 2016/800.

The Youthlab model was born in the Netherlands where it has already been tested to train judges and prosecutors. The present project aims to adapt and use the methodology in the Italian context to improve the juvenile justice system and bring the professionals working in it closer to the children involved.


Duration of the Project

February 2020 - June 2022


The main objective of the project is to increase the juvenile-friendly communication skills of professionals and practitioners through the inclusion of boys and girls who have been involved in criminal proceedings, especially those who have experienced detention in the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Italy.


Resources (in Italian)

The Overall Objective is to contribute to the capacity building of 380 juvenile justice professionals, i.e. judges, prosecutors and lawyers, in Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands, using a child participation based training model in order to assure a higher level of child-participation during judicial proceedings and to further roll out evidence-based supports for children involved in criminal judicial proceedings. 

Children involved in judicial proceedings who come in contact with professionals who participated in the Youthlab trainings, will have an increased sense of their rights being respected during the judicial proceedings and will feel safer to participate in the proceedings. During the two-year course of this project, the professionals have the potential of reaching at least 5.000 children after having received the training. The impact of the project will be measured among 300 children in total. 

The first specific objective is to strengthen the child-friendly communicative competences of 380 lawyers, prosecutors and judges in Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands using a child-participation based training model. 

The second specific objective is the structural integration of the Youthlab model informal training and education programs for the lawyers, prosecutors and judges. 

The innovative aspect of this project is involving youth in the development and delivery of the training and using creative training techniques. Until now training of professionals on how to communicate with young people does not involve youth who have the personal experience of being involved in the juvenile justice system. The experiences of young people shape and enrich the training and can be seen as a form of child participation in itself. The youth get paid for their service as trainers which is a proof of how serious youth participation is embedded in the project.

Partners and Collaborations

Young in Prison Netherlands

Leiden University - Netherlands

Defence for Children International Belgium

Defence for Children International Italy

Cofinance a Project
Cofinance a Project


We have collected 2.057,00€ / 26.592,00€
Project deadline: 21 August 2022

Contact Us

Defence for Children International - Italia

Sede legale e sociale: Piazza Don Andrea Gallo 5-6-7 R - 16124 Genova 
Sede operativa: Via Bellucci 4-6 - 16124 Genova


Tel.010 0899050 Fax 010 0899051
Codice Fiscale 97457060586

Genova Via Bellucci 4-6 mappa
Defence for Children international Italia
Sede legale e sociale: Piazza Don Andrea Gallo 5-6-7 R - 16124 Genova
Sede operativa: Via Bellucci 4-6, 16124 Genova
010 0899050