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The Evaluation of Children's Hearings in Scotland: Volume 3 - Children in Focus

Chapter FOUR

The Children: One and 2 years on

Part I

This chapter outlines the legal position of 1,140 of the children at 1 February 1996 and 1,141 of the children at 1 February 1997, using government data derived from the SWS21 records. A more detailed account of the circumstances of 619 of these children at February 1996 and 510 children at 1997 is provided in Part 1, based on questionnaires completed by Reporters at these 2 stages of the study. Reporters were able to provide more information in relation to children who were subject to supervision requirements.

The age, sex and supervision status of the children

At 1 February 1996, approaching half (514) of the children (45%, n=1,140) were subject to a supervision requirement. The majority of the children were male (328 males compared to 186 females), and they were largely in the 12 to 15 age group. Table 4.1.1 provides a detailed breakdown of the age and sex of the children who were subject to compulsory measures of care at 1 February 1996.

Table 4.1.1
Age and sex of children with a supervision requirement at 1 February 1996

Age group

Male

Female

Total

Per cent

under 5 years

30

23

53

10%

5 to 11 years

55

52

107

21%

12 to 15 years

193

86

279

54%

16 plus years

50

25

75

15%

Total

328

186

514

100%

By 1 February 1997 less than one-third (31%, n=1,141) of the children were subject to a supervision requirement. As at 1 February 1996, these were mainly male children in the 12 to 15 age group (see Table 4.1.2 below).

Table 4.1.2
Age and sex of the children under supervision at 1 February 1997

Age group

Male

Female

Total

Per cent

under 5 years

18

16

34

10%

5 to 11 years

42

46

88

25%

12 to 15 years

110

44

154

44%

16 plus years

47

26

73

21%

Total

217

132

349

100%

Children whose supervision requirement was terminated

There were 208 (n=1,140) children whose supervision requirements were terminated by 1 February 1996 (SWS21 data). These were largely male (143 males, 65 females), reflecting the higher numbers of males subject to supervision requirements. Boys aged 16 or older were most likely to have had a supervision requirement terminated (see Table 4.1.3).

Table 4.1.3
Age and sex of the children where a supervision requirement was terminated
between 1 February 1995 and 1 February 1996

Age group

Male

Female

Total

Per cent

under 5 years

6

9

15

7%

5 to 11 years

9

13

22

11%

12 to 15 years

13

7

20

10%

16 plus years

115

36

151

73%

Total

143

65

208

101%

By 1 February 1997 there were 187 (n=1,141) children whose supervision requirement had been terminated (see Table 4.1.4 below). Once again these were largely males in the 16-plus age group.

Table 4.1.4
Age and sex of the children whose supervision requirement was terminated
by 1 February 1997

Age group

Male

Female

Total

Per cent

under 5 years

3

3

6

3%

5 to 11 years

9

6

15

8%

12 to 15 years

8

14

22

12%

16 plus years

108

36

144

77%

Total

128

59

187

100%

Reporters provided information on the reasons for the termination of supervision requirements by February 1996 and 1997 (see Table 4.1.5 below). For a number of children a key reason was that they had 'outgrown the hearings system/the hearings system had nothing to offer the child'. These were almost exclusively children aged 16 or older on 1 February 1996.

Table 4.1.5
Reason for termination of supervision requirements

February 1996

February 1997

Reason

Number

Per cent of cases

Number

Per cent of cases

Parent-focused Reasons

child care improved

15

15%

4

5%

positive parental attitudes

13

13%

3

4%

negative parental attitudes

1

1%

2

2%

carer's alcohol and/or drug problems improved

4

4%

2

2%

parent-child relationship improved

4

4%

6

7%

child no longer at risk of abuse/neglect

6

6%

2

2%

Child-focused Reasons

child no longer risk to self/others

11

11%

4

5%

reduction in behavioural and/or other problems

4

4%

10

12%

reduction in offending

18

18%

16

20%

reduction in truancy/ non-attendance

4

4%

7

9%

outgrown hearings/ hearings nothing to offer child

50

50%

41

50%

Other Reasons

improvement but still some concerns

8

8%

10

12%

child to be adopted

3

3%

4

5%

other no details

10

10%

15

18%

The social circumstances of children under supervision

Reporters were able to provide some information on social circumstances for a limited number of children under supervision at February 1996 and 1997.

Living circumstances

The living circumstances of the children at February 1996 and one year later were similar. Table 4.1.6 below outlines the living circumstances of children under supervision at 1 February 1996 and 1997.

By February 1997, from the information available, it appeared that over two-fifths of the children under supervision, were living with parent(s) (44%, n=138) and just over one-tenth living with relatives (11%). Over one-third of children were living either in foster care, residential schools or home (36%) by February 1997.

Table 4.1.6
The living circumstances of children under supervision at 1 February 1996
and 1 February 1997

Living circumstances of the children

Children under supervision at
1 February 1996

Children under supervision at
1 February 1997

Number

Per cent

Number

Per cent

with parent(s)

135

46%

61

44%

with relatives

19

7%

15

11%

friends/unrelated carer

2

1%

2

1%

foster care

40

14%

20

15%

residential school

45

16%

24

17%

children's home

23

8%

6

4%

adult prison

-

-

2

1%

young offenders institute (YOI)

-

-

1

1%

secure accommodation

7

2%

3

2%

supported accommodation

3

1%

1

1%

own tenancy

2

1%

-

-

homeless/B&B/hostel

2

1%

-

-

other

6

2%

3

2%

not known

7

2%

-

-

Total

291

101%

138

99%

By February 1997, one of the most common reasons cited (47%, n=71) for a care placement was general concern about the child's care. This was followed by alcohol misuse by the child's carer (25%). Carer's drug misuse did not appear to be a major reason for admission to care (1%). Offending behaviour was a common reason for admission (24%).

Family composition

The family composition of the children at February 1996 and one year later was similar. In both years lone parenting was a prominent feature for children under supervision (see Table 4.17). This was slightly higher than for the entire cohort in 1995 where 46% (n=1,115) were lone-parent households.

By February 1997 well over half of the families of the children under supervision (where information was available) were lone parents (58%, n=136). One-fifth of children had a family with a traditional nuclear structure (see Table 4.1.7 below). This reflected the high rate of lone parenting in the sample.

Table 4.1.7
Family composition of children under supervision at February 1996 and 1997

Children under supervision at 1 February 1996

Children under supervision at 1 February 1997

Family composition

Number

Per cent

Number

Per cent

lone parent

144

51%

79

58%

nuclear family

65

23%

27

20%

reconstituted family

34

12%

17

13%

other

24

8%

10

7%

not known

18

6%

3

2%

Total

285

100%

136

100%

Adversities in the children's lives

Reporters were asked to record their concerns about the children in February 1996 and February 1997 by selecting 2 items from a set of pre-defined categories. Concerns in relation to offending and parental alcohol misuse were consistently identified by Reporters at the outset of the study for children under supervision one and 2 years on.

Table 4.1.8 below illustrates the difficulties children under supervision might be facing in 1996 and 1997. There were also 2 young people under supervision in February 1997 who were either pregnant or had their own child by this time.

Table 4.1.8
Reporters' concerns for children under supervision in 1996 (n=275) and 1997 (n= 135)

Type of concern

February 1996

February 1997

Difficulties in parental behaviour

Number

Per cent of cases

Number

Per cent
of cases

carer's alcohol problems

30

11%

19

14%

carer's drug problems

21

8%

9

7%

carer's mental health problems

15

6%

7

5%

parental relationship problems

27

10%

15

11%

domestic violence

9

3%

1

1%

Parent-child difficulties

child care concerns

57

21%

23

17%

parent-child relationship problems

46

17%

19

14%

child no contact/lost a birth parent

7

3%

5

4%

possible abuse/neglect of child

10

4%

1

1%

contact with sched. 11 / suspected abuser

3

1%

1

1%

Difficulties in child's behaviour

behavioural/emotional problems

37

14%

15

11%

offending

83

30%

41

30%

truancy

40

15%

18

13%

sexually inappropriate/abusive behaviour

2

1%

4

3%

sexually at risk/concerns re. sexual activity

6

2%

5

4%

drug and/or alcohol misuse by child

13

5%

6

4%

General concerns about the child

child unemployed/no training place

3

1%

1

1%

child pregnant/is a parent

1

0.4%

2

2%

lacks education/education placement

11

4%

2

2%

General social concerns

poverty/financial/housing problems

6

2%

3

2%

lacks facilities for children

-

-

1

1%

Other concerns

13

5%

8

6%

No concerns

19

7%

10

7%

1 Sched. 1 refers to an offender who has been convicted of an offence(s) under schedule 1 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1975.

Offending status

By February 1996 a picture had emerged of a small group of children (116) whose offending was continuing or increasing, including 21 children whose offences were becoming more serious (see Table 4.1.9 below). This group was predominantly male and mostly under supervision at February 1996.

Table 4.1.9
Offending by supervision status and sex at February 1996

Under supervision
at February 1996

Not under supervision
at February 1996

Offending status

male
No.

female No.

total
No. %

male
No.

female No.

total
No. %

started since February 1995

5

2

7 5%

2

1

3 2%

offending continuing

50

10

60 40%

14

1

15 7%

offending increasing

12

2

14 9%

5

1

6 3%

offending more serious

6

1

7 5%

0

0

0 0%

offending increasing + more serious

10

0

10 7%

4

0

4 2%

offending decreasing

32

13

45 30%

20

7

27 13%

not known

7

2

9 6%

101

47

148 73%

Total

122

30

152

146

57

203

A small number of children under supervision at February 1997 continued to offend, and in some cases their offending increased and/or became more serious (36%, n=120) (see Table 4.1.10 below). About one-fifth (18%, n=120) of children under supervision were reducing their offending.

Table 4.1.10
Patterns of offending for children under supervision at February 1997

Pattern of offending since 1 February 1996

Number

Per cent

started offending

4

3%

continuing to offend

30

25%

offending increasing

6

5%

offending becoming more serious

4

3%

offending increasing + more serious

4

3%

offending decreasing

21

18%

not known

1

1%

no offending or too young to offend

50

42%

Total

120

100%

Educational status

The majority of children aged between 5 and 15 years at February 1995 were enrolled at school by 1 February 1995. There was limited information available on their subsequent educational status.

Fifty-five (n=451) children had changed their type of schooling by February 1996, the majority of whom (51) were, also, by that time, under supervision. Truancy was recorded as starting or continuing for 64 children (n=208) under supervision in 1996; and for 27 children truancy had ended or reduced. No truancy was recorded for 79 children under supervision in 1996.

By February 1997 there were 105 children under supervision and under 16 years of age enrolled in school. Almost two-thirds (63%, n=103) attended local authority schools, although just over one-fifth (21%, n=103) were in residential schools and a further 11% (n=103) were in some kind of specialist educational unit. Truancy was also a problem for just over one-fifth (22%, n=105) of these children. This suggested that for this small group of children schooling difficulties were a concern.

Of 32 young people aged 16 years or older and under supervision at 1 February 1997, 13 were unemployed, 7 were on a training scheme, and 10 were enrolled in school. Details were not available for 2 young people.