The Impact of Educational Intervention on Young People's Understanding of Legal Rights in New Zealand
The Child and Young Persons version of the Rights Caution is read to young people to inform them of their legal rights during police arrest and questioning in New Zealand. Research to date suggests the way legal rights are currently delivered does not meet young people’s developmental needs, as young people do not understand their rights. This research aimed to examine: 1) the level of legal rights understanding among young people in New Zealand; 2) the relationship between age and understanding; and 3) whether understanding can be improved with a video-based educational intervention which provided young people with legal rights knowledge. In this study a community sample of young people (n = 99), aged 10 to 18-years, was used. Participants were assigned to two groups; one group received an educational video which provided legal rights knowledge, while the other received the legal rights as they are currently delivered in practice with the Child and Young Persons version of the Caution. Young people’s understanding of legal rights was then assessed in a semi-structured interview using the New Zealand Rights Caution Competency Questionnaire (Fortune et al., 2017). The results showed levels of understanding among this sample were low, with young people misunderstanding many parts of their legal rights. Regression analysis revealed age was a significant positive predictor of legal rights understanding, suggesting younger youth are most vulnerable to incomplete legal rights understanding. Regression analysis also revealed the educational video significantly improved young people’s understanding across a variety of legal rights abilities, including their ability to remember and apply legal rights in hypothetical legal scenarios. The implications of these findings for policy and practice are discussed, alongside the need for the delivery of legal rights to address a broader range of young people’s legal rights difficulties; including young people’s lack of legal rights knowledge.