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Monday 11th of November 2019

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The legal construction of childhood

Katja Filipcic
IJJO. First International Conference on Juvenile Justice. Salamanca 2004.


Communication submitted in the First International Conference of Juvenile Justice "Juvenile Justice and the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency in a Globalized World". Salamanca 2004.

Since 90s the juvenile justice systems in the majority European (and nonEuropen) states has been changed. In almost all changes we can see the new attitude to juvenile criminality and to childhood in general. Because of that practicly all changes are connected (directly or indirectly) with the issue of penal age - age of criminal responsibility.

In one sense »age of criminal responsibility« is the age below which a child is deemed to lack the capacity to commit a crime; the child cannot be brought into the criminal justice system (juvenile justice system), he is handled by nonjudicial mechanisms. The child under this age cannot be subject to criminal prosecution, irrespective of his actual capacity to form any criminal intent. This age supposed based on empirical data on the understanding of children of right and wrong but more than by psychological theories it is influenced by legal tradition. This age is different in European countries; from 8 in Scotland to 15 in Scandinavic countries.
By contrast another meaning of age of criminal responsibility is the point at which the age of offender has no relevance for his treatment or disposal as part of the criminal justice system, most typically the age at which an accused becomes subject to the adult system of prosecution and punishment. In all European countries this is the age of 18 years.

Now I would like to briefly describe some changes in dealing with juveniles who committed crimes in the last 15 years to show their connection with an age issue.


European Union

Year Language

2004 English

Category Type

Grey Literature Communication


Delinquency, Justice, Juvenile, Legislation, Penal


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