The 'responsibility' of children in the criminal law

19 JUN 2007

Heather Keating, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Sussex. The age at which children are deemed responsible differs between family law and criminal law. Is there any justification for this difference? This article explores what it means when children are held responsible for their behaviour in the criminal justice system and argues that the concept of responsibility itself is being manipulated in discussions about children's harmful behaviour. Considering the development of the Gillick competence principle applied to children in family law, the author considers whether there should be a similar test in criminal law, as opposed to a blanket age of criminal responsibility coming into force as soon as the 10th birthday jelly and ice cream are cleared away. For the full article, which examines in detail the family and criminal law tests of competence, their origins and purpose and the consequences for children, see Child and Family Law Quarterly, Vol 19, No 2, 2007.

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