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Chapter

Cover The Oxford Textbook on Criminology

9. Youth offending and youth justice  

This chapter describes youth offending and youth justice: that is, offending behaviour committed by children and young people and how they are treated in the Youth Justice System. Society’s assumptions about what it means to be a child and what should be expected of children and young people in terms of their development and behaviour shape its views on and responses to youth offending. The chapter then looks at how the concepts of ‘childhood’ and ‘youth’ have been seen, theorised, and socially constructed over time, before moving on to consider explanations for youth offending and ‘delinquency’. Youth offending has tended to be explained in individualised terms, through developmental and psychological explanations. The chapter also evaluates the main formal responses to youth offending and assesses more progressive, contemporary approaches to youth offending and delivering youth justice.

Chapter

Cover Sentencing and Punishment

11. Court orders for young offenders  

This chapter first considers the range of civil orders available to the courts in responding to anti-social or criminal behavior by children and young people. It therefore focusses on the criminal behaviour orders and injunctions as well as the community remedy. It then looks at the options available to the sentencing court in relation to criminal offending and so refers in particular to the referral order and the Youth Offender Panel, the youth rehabilitation order and the detention and training order. We note the welcome fall in the number of children in prison but note the increase in the average custodial sentence length. The chapter also discusses selected aspects of conditions in secure accommodation and reviews the role and achievements of using rights in responding to problematic issues.

Chapter

Cover Sentencing and Punishment

11. Court orders for young offenders  

This chapter focuses on the ways and the extent to which the courts deal differently with children and young people under 18 who commit criminal offences or behave antisocially. It therefore covers the new criminal behaviour orders and injunctions as well as parenting orders. It then reviews the sentencing options available to the Youth and Crown Courts in dealing with young offenders, and examines the current practices and policy trends in relation to both community and custodial penalties for young offenders. In particular, the chapter covers the YRO (Youth Rehabilitation Order) and the Detention and Training order. It highlights the continuing deficiencies in the care of young people detained in young offender institutions and secure training centres, especially in regard to methods of restraint, and examines the advantages and limitations of using children’s rights and human rights to ensure more appropriate treatment of children and young people who commit offences.

Chapter

Cover The Oxford Handbook of Criminology

41. Youth justice  

Lesley McAra

This chapter explores the founding principles, operational functioning and impact of the institutions which have evolved across the four nations in the United Kingdom to deal with children and young people who come into conflict with the law. It takes as its principal empirical focus the shifting patterns of control that have emerged over the past twenty years—a period characterized by a persistent disjuncture between normative claims about youth justice, evolving policy discourse, and the impact of youth justice practices on the lives of young people. The chapter concludes by arguing that, unless there is better alignment between these dimensions, justice for children and young people cannot and will never be delivered.

Chapter

Cover Sentencing and Punishment

6. Instead of punishment?  

Restorative justice, child welfare, and medical treatment

This chapter looks at three aspects of sentencing and punishment which—though very different—potentially offer alternatives to a focus on punishment. It first discusses an alternative rationale and approach for responding to those who commit offences, restorative justice and then discusses two sets of offenders where the court does not have to sentence strictly in line with just deserts. So it focuses on children and young people under 18 years of age and examines the policies developed to take into account the welfare of the child, such as diversion from prosecution and a modified approach to strict proportionality of penal responses. Next the chapter focuses on those offenders who are deemed to be mentally disordered and reviews those options available to the sentencing court which focus on treatment rather than punishment. Finally, the chapter provides reflective exercises for all three (potential) alternatives to punishment.