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Youth and Juvenile Justice

"Children who came directly under the power of the state for their own protection (state wards)... are now the largest per capita group in our juvenile jails (and hence, our adult jails)."

Classification of Children Offenders
One of the most difficult areas of criminal justice policy lies in providing appropriate legal mechanisms to reflect the transition from the age of innocence through to maturity and full responsibility under the criminal law.

Australian jurisdictions have recently arrived at a uniform minimum age for criminal responsibility of 10 years. Doli incapax, or the maximum age of presumption against criminal responsibility, is also uniform at under 14. The maximum age of treatment as a child for criminal responsibility varies somewhat - in most jurisdictions it is 17 years, except in Queensland where the maximum age is 16 years.
(Source - Australian Government, Institute of Criminology)

See the link below for the ages of criminal responsibility in each jurisdiction throughout Australia:
http://www.aic.gov.au/research/jjustice/definition.html

Juvenile Crime and Patterns of Offending
Until recently, there has been limited research that investigates children's life course of maltreatment and subsequent patterns of offending. A report released by the Australian Institute of Criminology reveals a direct path from child maltreatment to juvenile offending. The report focuses on the 41,700 children born in Queensland in 1983, and more specifically the 2,885 children that were reported to the Department of Families as maltreated. Various factors were identified to predict subsequent offending in maltreated children such as gender and Indigenous status. For example, 25 per cent of maltreated males were more likely to subsequently offend compared to 11 per cent of maltreated females. Forty-two per cent of maltreated Indigenous children later offended compared to 14 per cent of non-Indigenous maltreated children. Furthermore, almost one-quarter of the maltreated children who suffered physical abuse or neglect subsequently offended.

 

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