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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 119143 Find in a Library
Title: Historical Challenge of Juvenile Criminality (From Juvenile Psychiatry and the Law, P 1-11, 1989, Richard Rosner and Harold I Schwartz, eds. -- See NCJ-119142)
Author(s): J M Quen
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 11
Sponsoring Agency: Plenum Press
New York, NY 10013
Sale Source: Plenum Press
233 Spring Street
New York, NY 10013
United States of America
Type: Historical Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Throughout history both animal and human communities have distinguished between the acts of children and those of mature organisms, as shown by several examples of social and legal attitudes toward children who committed antisocial acts or who were in danger of becoming either antisocial or inadequately prepared for living as autonomous adults.
Abstract: Child psychiatrists and others interested in law and legislation need to educate themselves about the history of laws and social attitudes regarding childhood by reading the original sources. For example, the period between birth and adulthood has varied in different cultures and eras, with ancient Hebrew law making boys adults at 13 and girls at 12 and seventh-century England holding that those over age 10 could be guilty of theft; three centuries later, this age was changed to 12. In fourth-century England the emphasis was shifted from age to functional capabilities and resembled earlier Roman law. In addition, historically and currently, status offenses such as running away have been defined that do not apply to adults. Moreover, throughout history severe legal penalties have been defined together with mechanisms designed to weaken or discourage their implementation. Thus, capital punishment for striking one's parents was on the Puritans' lawbooks, but it apparently was never applied in the colonies. The laws also reaffirmed the legal rights of children when faced with unacceptable parental actions. Later, social movements initiated in the late 18th century led to the establishment of child protection organizations. Finally, problems with the reformatories that initially intended to educate and rehabilitate led to efforts to provide programs to prevent juveniles from growing into criminals. These efforts and the focus on the causes of juvenile criminality may underlie the development of child psychiatry. 16 references.
Main Term(s): History of juvenile justice
Index Term(s): Juvenile delinquency; Offense classification; Psychological influences on crime
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