For some time now, young people involved in children’s hearings, including those from Our Hearings, Our Voice (OHOV) and the Voice Inclusion Project (VIP) have been unhappy about the language they experience in children’s hearings and in the reports they receive. They are doing something to change all of that!
Since November 2022, a co-design group known as the ‘Word Busters’ has been meeting. They are made up of six young people or adults with experience of hearings (from OHOV, VIP and a Champs Board), five professionals from across the hearings system (social work, children’s rights, advocacy, reporter and Children’s Hearings Scotland) and facilitated by OHOV. The work is fully supported, strategically, by all the key organisations involved in the children’s hearings system.
The work is designed to prevent misunderstanding, distress or re-traumatising of children in the hearings system, through changing the language used. Here is what has been agreed so far:
- A word busting tool will be created which can be used by adults to influence the language they use in hearings and reports, and by young people in influencing that practice
- The tool will list words to avoid or bin
- It will give people options to explain words and break down complex or legal terms
- It will provide a glossary, dictionary or word bank
- And encourage language to be individualised for children.
We are still at the messy stage of this project and are still to establish a list of words to ‘bin’ or to describe in different ways. We hope to have more to share early in 2023 so please watch this space. For now, these are some examples of the work children, young people and young adults have done on their own or co-created with adult professionals.