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What have I done? A victim empathy programme for young people

Feb 24, 2010

What have I done? A victim empathy programme for young people. Pete Wallis with Clair Aldington and Marian Liebmann. Illustrated by Emily Wallis.  London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 2010. 204 pages. Paperback with DVD.

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.  

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Jean says:
Apr 07, 2010 09:19 PM

We (Turning Point Partners) is about to use this book as part of a diversion process. In preparing the team to facilitate a training of professionals, we went through the book using sometime in our individual lives that we'd harmed someone; that is as &quot;offenders&quot;. What we determined after experiencing the impact of doing the process is that it's an excellent way of presenting a RJ training to anyone, any time. We can get through the four modules in 2 full days. We have to youths on our staff who are not so long time away from having been in gangs and committing felonies. Both of them were deeply impacted. <br />

lparker says:
Apr 07, 2010 09:21 PM

Jean, <br /> <br />Thanks for your comments. It's great to hear about such experiences as they can help all of us as we look for ways to implement or improve practice. <br /> <br />Lynette

Rosina Williams
Rosina Williams says:
Apr 01, 2013 08:29 PM

We are in the process to develop a manual for first time offenders and troubled youth. It seems as this book will help us a lot. How can I get one

Lynette Parker
Lynette Parker says:
Apr 02, 2013 11:47 AM

Dear Rosina,
The book is published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers and is available from them for $49.00. The link to learn more is


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