Victim support organisations have voiced concerns around a new law which means 16 and 17-year-olds can be referred to the children’s hearings system rather than criminal courts.
The groups said the Children (Care and Justice) (Scotland) Bill, which is currently going through Holyrood, does not include enough support for victims.
It makes a number of changes to the way the justice system deals with children.
The Scottish Parliament’s Children and Young People committee heard evidence from charities on Wednesday.
Dr Marsha Scott, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, said it is important those involved in children’s hearings understand concepts like coercive control.
She told the committee: “From our perspective the whole system needs to be rejigged.”
Young victims should have the same protections as adult victims, she argued.
Written evidence from Scottish Women’s Aid said: “It is a significant omission that the Bill does not propose provisions to protect victims in response to the increase of the maximum age of referral.
“Given the likely increase in serious cases, including domestic abuse cases, being rerouted from the criminal justice system to the children’s hearings system we urge the Scottish Government to acknowledge the significant gap in support pathways for victims affected by a child’s offending behaviour.”
The charity noted the Bill would lead to more domestic abuse cases being routed into the children’s hearings system, which it is not equipped to deal with.
Kate Wallace, chief executive officer of Victim Support Scotland, said there had been talks with the Government on how much information victims would receive under the new system.
Discussions around the “complex” issue of anonymity for young people accused of crimes are also taking place, she said.
She told the MSPs she was “not feeling that confident” these issues can be resolved through amendments to the Bill, given parliamentary deadlines.
The Children and Young People Committee also heard evidence about the financial implications of the Bill.
Stephen Bermingham, of Children’s Hearings Scotland, said the expected costs had increased by 42%, which MSP Michelle Thomson said was “startling”.