What have I done? A victim empathy programme for young people
Feb 24, 2010
by Eric Assur
This book is very practice oriented. It looks and feels like a workbook. The accompanying DVD is to help with didactic use with groups of teens. The professionals Wallis acknowledges as having helped him are largely probation or ‘youth offending service’ professionals in the United Kingdom.
The Canadian, Australian, or United States reader immediately notes that the spelling of the Kings Language is of the British or UK variety. Regardless of spelling, this book is a simple, easy to use workbook to guide the skilled and the not-so-well-informed youth services professional who works with teens who have offended.
The goal of the book is simple. Wallis, also known for his Pocket Guide to Restorative Justice, promises a “flexible and interactive” programme to “encourage empathy in young people who have committed a specific crime or hurt others.” Guidance is provided to the facilitator for use with either individuals or a group of young offenders in a victim-awareness or restorative justice class. The reader is cautioned to not use the book with inappropriate or more needy offenders, such as sexual offenders or domestic violence offenders.
The book content parallels the four-part, 6-8 minute module segments on the DVD. These segments appear to have been recorded during actual empathy development offender groups with real offenders, rather than scripted actors. Each of the four video segments has worksheets or exercises that are kid friendly and are designed for photocopying. The publisher even invites users to photocopy the pages noted with the √ mark.
The four modules help the offender to acknowledge responsibility for their actions and to then appreciate the harm these caused to the victim as well as the consequences or harm to their families, communities and others. This leads ultimately to developing a “chance to put things right.”
A reader who knows little about victim-offender services, restorative justice, or even youth group work can benefit from having this as both a primer and a tool for day-to-day use with juvenile and very young adult offenders.