We understand that children and young people can feel anxious about going to their Hearing. We want you to feel at ease and ready to participate, so we have asked our Participation Officer Jennifer Orren to give advice on some of the areas which children and young people have told us give them cause to worry…
Hearings go on too long
Ideally Hearings should last for no longer than an hour, but for lots of different reasons they can go on longer. It’s perfectly ok to ask for a break, don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel you want to stop for a bit.
No one listens to me
The Hearing is all about you and your views must be listened to. The Panel Members know this, and they really want to know how you feel. You can have your say in lots of different ways – if you feel able to, speaking at the Hearing is best. Or if you prefer, you can write your views down, draw a picture, ask to speak to the Panel Members on your own, or even ask someone, like an advocate, to speak on your behalf. Remember to fill in your ‘All About Me’ form beforehand, as it can help the Panel Members know how you are feeling and what you would like to happen.
There’s too many adults in the room
If you feel there are too many people in your Hearing, you have the right to ask to speak to the Panel Members on your own, or with less people in the room.
People use words that I don’t understand
There are lots of words and phrases that are legal and complex. It’s absolutely ok to say that you don’t understand what has been said, and to ask for them to be said in a more straightforward way. Panel Members have a duty of care to make sure you understand what is happening during your Hearing, and they are happy to repeat things in a way that’s easier for you to understand if you would like them to.
Hearings get continued quite a lot
Panel Members always try to make a decision as soon as they can, but sometimes they aren’t able to. This is generally because they don’t have enough information to make full decision, and there has to be another Hearing once they have the information that they need. There should always be a very good reason for this, but the Panel Members will explain their decision clearly at the time – and if you don’t understand – just ask!
I don’t like it when my past is brought up
We understand it doesn’t feel comfortable to have your past talked about. To make the best decision for you, the Panel Members need to have lots of information, and this can mean that sometimes they look at things that have happened in your life in case it forms part of the decision that they need to make at your Hearing.
What if I’m taken away or moved?
Some children and young people worry about this. But it’s important to remember that most children and young people on a Compulsory Supervision Order stay at home or with family, and if there are plans to have you live somewhere else, your social worker will speak to you about this before your Children’s Hearing. If you’re worried this could happen to you, it is really important that you talk it through with someone, like your social worker or an advocacy worker, so that they can help you understand what is likely to happen, and why.
One of the best ways to prepare for your Children’s Hearing and understand what is likely to happen, is by attending a Pre-Hearing visit. It will help you feel more comfortable and better prepared. You can ask lots of questions at the Pre-Hearing visit, and the Children’s Reporter will explain where your Hearing will take place and give you lots of helpful information.
We have lots of information to help make sure you are familiar with your rights. We want to you understand that for example, you have the right to have your say, the right for decisions about you to be made in the best interests of you, and that you can challenge the decision or request another Hearing.
You have the right to bring someone to your Hearing with you to support you. It could be a friend, a lawyer, or an advocate. An advocacy worker supports children and young people to speak up, express their views and represent their rights. More information about advocacy can be found here.
We also have a film about Going to a Children’s Hearing, made by young people for young people, to help you to know what to expect. You can view it here.
Remember that you can contact the Children’s Reporter named on your Hearing notification letter anytime, or if you want more information or have questions that are not covered here, or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org