[FINANCEMENT] Programme COST - Justice to youth language needs: human rights undermined by an invisible disability


du 30 mai 2023 au 27 juin 2023

Le groupe Langage de l'équipe Autisme est co-porteur d'un programme COST financé par Horizon Europe.

This Action addresses the lack of consistent policies to establish the language abilities children and adolescents need to possess in order to participate in justice proceedings effectively. The journey through criminal justice is based on highly verbal and text-rich processes that require a sufficient level of verbal ability. However, research in the English-speaking countries (severely limited in other European countries) shows that the prevalence of language impairment is up to six times higher in the population of youth offenders. A disability that hinders oral language comprehension and expression significantly impedes effective participation in justice; if undiagnosed and untreated, it also increases the risk of re-offending. The literature also raises concern about the lack of sufficiently nuanced assessments to identify language difficulties in older children. This is worrying as the field of developmental linguistics demonstrates that some syntactic abilities are still under development during (pre)puberty, and that the abilities to connect language to context and world knowledge are vulnerable even in late adolescence. These particular linguistic abilities may be exactly those needed in processing the complexities of language justice proceedings. Even where screening for language difficulties exists, scarce attention is paid to the needs of children and adolescents who are multilingual, who have known and unknown disabilities, or who are deaf or hearing impaired. To ensure protection of human rights of this vulnerable population group, an Action to establish the situation at European and cross-country level and propose specific measures to improve prompt and adequate identification of language disorders is urgent.
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