Journal Article

Victim-Offender Mediation in the Italian Juvenile Justice System: The Role of the Social Worker


in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 28, issue 5, pages 729-744
Published in print October 1998 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online October 1998 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Victim-Offender Mediation in the Italian Juvenile Justice System: The Role of the Social Worker

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Mediation, according to the restorative justice approach, balances the victims' needs against holding offenders responsible for the harm caused and requiring them to make reparation for it. Victim-offender mediation in the Italian juvenile justice system is not, as yet, widely implemented. Social workers, employed by the Juvenile Criminal Justice Department, are the only professionals involved in mediation.

Results from a national survey conducted with social workers who are responsible for victim-offender mediation as part of their probation duties, show that mediation programmes remain limited and unstructured. Individual, locally based experiences, not equally distributed around the country and mainly involving petty crimes, indicate that in most cases primary attention is paid to the young offender and that the victim's interests are not considered. Social workers claim that, although they perceive the advantages of a restorative justice approach to crime, they lack the skills as well as the time to undertake this duty adequately. The research findings also address the potential biases of offering mediation programmes as part of a probation order, thereby affecting the independence and neutrality of mediation. This risk can be avoided if social workers acting as mediators are thoroughly trained, as in the case study of attempted murder presented below. The case study reported shows, moreover, that mediation can be successfully undertaken even with serious offences and that both the victim and the offender can benefit from it. Issues related to the implications and social policy impact of mediation as a social work practice are also considered.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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