Voices of resilience : female experiences in and out of youth justice residence : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Social Work at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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Massey University
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This project critically examines the notion that young women experience being admitted to a youth justice residence as turning point in their lives as well as their experiences of transition back to the community. Residential care has the potential to be a fundamental agent of change for serious female youth offenders. Retrospectively, understanding the experiences and knowledge of female young people who have been through the youth justice residential care system is essential in order for professionals working in this field to be able to respond to their needs and engage in purposeful and meaningful interventions. Understanding the way females transition back to the community from residence provides information about how the system supports young women to transition into young adult/adulthood and build on the change they created while they were in residence. The retrospective lens that was used for this project will draw on the experiences of former female residents of youth justice residential care and their transition back into the community. Prospective participants were recruited using key informants, Facebook and snowball sampling methods. A small group of participants were interviewed about their experiences, knowledge, issues and solutions for the youth justice system in New Zealand. Data collection was carried out utilising semistructured interviews applying a descriptive interview approach, with a total of six interviews that were completed, transcribed and approved for use by the research participants. The thematic analysis that was used to analyse the data helped to create the key themes to present the findings and discussion chapters. The key findings from that data that was discussed further include the findings that contribute to the knowledge about female youth offenders and their life experiences that led to their involvement in the youth justice system; how their sense of self developed throughout their time in the system; the impact and support the youth justice residence provided for young women; the experiences of transition back to the community and the support that was provided during this process; and lastly the implications these findings have for social work practice within the system as a whole, for youth justice residence, and for transition services. The participant experiences highlight how the youth justice system responds to its responsibility to successfully develop the wellbeing of young women to create lives they are proud of.
Female juvenile delinquents, New Zealand, Juvenile detention homes, Young women, Attitudes